Sunday, March 21, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Echoes

Oh, Maeve Binchy. *Almost* everything I read by her makes me swoon. If God gives me another little girl ever, may I name her Maeve. I LOVE her writing.

Echoes didn't disappoint. It was a little slow-going in the beginning, but didn't take long at all until I was falling in love with the characters. Especially the main character Clare. (There's a little trivia for you - we allllmost used Clare as Caris' middle name but went for Colleen instead, after my Mom and sister.)

Here's what I really love in a book:

Writing that makes me FEEL. I like to laugh, cry, hurt, enjoy - I like to be really involved and invested in what I'm reading. Maeve Binchy has a gift for making you feel as though you know her characters personally, so you really do care about what's going on in their lives.

I like to feel like what I'm reading is real. Not real like a documentary or a biography, but not contrived is what I'm saying. I like for situations and feelings amongst the characters to develop in a believable way.

It's awesome when the pace and length of the book are perfect. Echoes is not a tiny short book, but it's not exceedingly long, either. When I noticed that I was moving back in the book and had only about 20 pages left I started to despair. Oh no! The book's almost over! Two days out from finishing the book, I can say I'm glad she left off where she did. Right when I finished I was a little angry with her. ;-)

I expect good writing. I expect to read something I feel impressed and awed by. I want the author to know things I don't. In other words, I like to enter into someone else's world and think - oh, that's a cute saying! Or wow, how did she know that?? Maeve Binchy lives in a different culture than I do so part of this is easy for her but part of it is just that she's a dang good writer.

I like to identify with the characters. I don't know if everyone would feel this way, but I just loved Clare. I wanted to be a little more like her. I wanted to speak more like she did, know just what to say and how to handle life's irritations. As I read, I prayed that I'd become a person with more grace and fortitude.

I like a book to affect me! It's great fun once in a while to just plain read a silly little book, but it's wonderful to read something that changes who I am in a slight way, even if just in the way I perceive something.

. . . off to see what I haven't yet read by Maeve Binchy and get my hands on it!

I'm working on Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and oh, it's labor compared to Maeve Binchy. GIVE ME THE BINCHY.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Canaan's Sick

I should have known three days ago. I told Canaan no about something (I forget what) and it made him so upset that he ran upstairs to cry. I went up to check on him literally less than 5 minutes later and found this:
Two days ago the kids and I were doing some schoolwork in the early evening and I couldn't hear Canaan. I called him . . . and then again, more loudly. No response isn't typical, so I went to check on him and found him like 4 feet from me on the couch like this:
Yesterday I put him down for a nap, just like every day. 9 days out of 10 now he doesn't nap at all but plays with his toys in his room and has "quiet time". It's not always quiet. Anyway, yesterday I was reading him a book and he just flat-out fell asleep mid story. Not the norm. When I got him up from his nap he was burning up. :-(

Caris took pity and made him a card.
He really liked it.
Today's been more of the same. Fever, tired, but otherwise nothing major. He even plays when the Motrin kicks in and the fever goes down. I'm wondering if it's Roseola. I guess we'll know in a couple days!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I ordered this Bible for free from Zondervan from a link I saw - gosh, last week or the week before? It came a few days ago and can I just tell you that I was FLOORED when it arrived!

First of all, it came in a beautiful box and was wrapped with the most darling cover around the box that umm, looked pretty much like my desk does at all times, with receipts, notes, shopping lists, recipes, things like that.

Then I opened up that box - oh MY gosh! You can see above just how darling it is. *It's REALLY cute*.

I got some time last night to flip through this NIV Bible and not only is it cute and the perfect size, it has the sweetest devotions throughout. There are options for the busy mom to choose a 1-minute devotion, a 5-minute devotion and a 10-minute devotion. I love that they know how busy Moms are and that a 10-minute devotional is a lofty goal some days. LOL!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I kept seeing this book around the blogosphere and it sounded interesting, so I finally picked up a copy from Paperback Swap.

You know how it is when you hear oodles of raves about a book, right? You go in expecting it to be fabulous. A not-putter-downer. Welllll . . . this book wasn't a not-putter-downer for me.

First of all, I didn't realize that the entire book is written in letter form. It took me a while to get it straight in my head who was who. Once I knew everyone it got more interesting, but honestly I didn't feel bonded with the characters until the end of the book. And then I wished there were more time with them.

It's certainly well-written, witty and interesting. It has a war sort of theme and amazingly, I was really interested in the historical details and wondered about finding out more. And I am not a history buff in the least.

I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

March menu - lunch

As promised, here is this month's lunch menu. I counted one day eating out because I think I will be having a girl day celebrating my Mom's Birthday that day, and Alif likes to order pizza or something when it's just he and the kids.

Some days I plan lunch around the previous night's leftovers. For example, tonight we're having chili and there won't be enough left over for a full meal, but tomorrow we'll have a scoop of chili over some brown rice and that will be a nice lunch.

Also, I usually will add in whatever fruits & veggies we get from our CSA box and at the grocery store. When you see lunch looking breakfast-ey, it's usually on a Sunday. We give the kids a little snack before church and eat a big brunch when we get home.

chili & brown rice
taco salad
pasta w/marinara, tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar
egg sandwiches, fruit
banana splits (banana, yogurt, fruit, cereal)
tomato soup, grilled cheese
tuna sandwich, apples
pita pizza
english muffin w/jelly, boiled egg, banana
chicken & cranberry sandwich, pears
bean omelets, fruit
baked yams, salad
lentil soup (will freeze half for next time)
turkey sandwich, oranges
snacky lunch (will just cut up fruits, veggies, deli meat, boiled eggs, whatever we have around)
taco salad
salad w/tuna
egg scramble, cinnamon rolls
baked potato, broccoli, ranch
chicken & veggie quesadilla
tuna sandwich, applesauce
english muffin pizza
cottage cheese w/fruit, boiled egg
blueberry pancakes, fruit
macaroni & cheese w/peas
lentil soup (see? there it is!)
pita sandwich (w/tuna, celery, green onions, carrots, mayo, dijon and lettuce)

March menu

I was inspired by Lynette to make my menu for the month this time instead of a week. She just mentioned it casually, and later when I thought about it, it made perfect sense. Each week I get out paper, cookbooks, my computer and pencil to make my menu. Why not just sit and do it all at one time? It took me 45 minutes, and it usually takes me 20-30 to make a weekly menu, so it was a huge time-saver and wow, what stress relief to know that I don't have to think about my menu again until the end of the month!

In fact, I printed four blank calendars: two for March and two for April. I used one March calendar to make my dinner menu and will use another to make our lunch menu, which doesn't change nearly as much as our dinners do so it will be quick and easy, relatively speaking. I'll keep the April calendars at hand so that when I see a recipe or meal idea that I like, I can jot it down and April's menu planning will be even easier than March was!

We eat out (usually Subway or Del Taco) on Tuesdays, since it's just easy to do that on our way home from ballet and also because it's nice to have one day a week that I don't have to cook! We used to eat out at LEAST 3-4 nights a week so once a week has been a major cutback for us, and so good for us in many ways. Here are the rest of the meals we have planned for March:

chili & rolls
stir-fry, brown rice
pot roast, veggies, mashed potatoes & gravy
baked ham sandwiches, fruit
pork chops, oven-roasted carrots, peppers, onion, red potato wedges
burritos, salad
chef's salad
parmesan garlic chicken, green beans, pasta w/marinara
breaded tilapia, brown rice, broccoli & carrots
spaghetti w/meat and veggie sauce, garlic toast
chicken fajitas, beans
sloppy joes, corn
black bean soup
chinese chicken salad
pasta w/chunky vegetable sauce
slow-cooker black beans and brown rice
pita pizzas, salad
taco salad
taco soup
turkey burgers, salad, fruit
citrus grilled chicken, brown rice, pineapple
fish tacos, asparagus
shredded chicken sandwiches, fruit
broccoli garlic pasta, yams
white chicken chili, cornbread

I'll post our lunch menu tomorrow.