Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Monday Morning Confessional

Don’t worry, my priest gets the juicy stuff. 😉

1. We ate bread and rice on Sunday. This is abnormal for us these days. But we were a bit weary of salads, and grilled meat. It was nice to have a little treat, and someone may have also had a couple of margaritas.

2. My kitchen is a mess. I don’t think it’s been completely spotless for a couple of weeks. Every time I get back to just respectable, I cook a big meal and it all goes to hell again. I guess since I didn’t have to cook dinner on Sunday night it should be clean right now. Yeah right!

3. I have been behind on laundry for months. It’s not all dirty. In fact, the vast majority is clean but not put away. And even though I have a ginormous closet, I don’t think there is room for everything. The consequences of not purging clothes when we moved three years ago along with my yo-yo weight are coming home to roost. I am aware that it’s annoying for people to whine about having too much. But it really is a problem and I know I’m not the only one.

4. My left foot is messed up. I have been having pain and discomfort in the ball of my foot for weeks. So I’m going to see a podiatrist. I have never done this before. I hope they don’t try to tell me that my feet are all wrong and that I need thousands of dollars worth of inserts, etc… Because I can assure you I will be finding a different doctor for my foot if that happens.

5. The windows are all in, but they still have to be trimmed and painted on the inside and siding has to replaced and painted on the outside as well. I have no idea how many more days I will be stuck at the house all day. What do people do when both couples work full time? Does someone have to take vacation to have work done on their house? I am trying to always remember to thankful for my blessings.

6. I just finished Rob Lowe’s autobiography, “Stories I Only Tell My Friends”. I am surprised at how good his writing is, and how much I like him. Or at least the him that he reveals in this book. He has led a pretty amazing and complicated life. It’s a good read and I would definitely recommend it.

7. We have a partial season ticket package for a minor league baseball team. We have missed every single game so far this season. This is completely unusual for us. And I don’t even want to think about what a waste of money. No tickets next year…

8. My sister in-law just had her after pre-school caregiver fink out on her with barely more than a week’s notice before school starts. And the woman did it over text message! Can you even believe how completely despicable and gutless some people are?! And I think this person even goes to the same church they do. I’m glad it’s not me because I would be very tempted to to be not nice (Yes, I have to go to confession A Lot. Why do you ask?). Luckily for the fink, my sister in-law is very sweet.

9. Have a great week and enjoy the last days of summer!

Fat Tuesday Volume XX

After a bit of an absence, Fat Tuesdays are back! Since I went to Hawaii weighing more than I would like, and looking a way that I am not comfortable with, I am re-doubling my efforts. I DO NOT want to feel that way about my sister’s wedding pictures. To that end, I read this book over the weekend.

It really helped me think about food and exercise in a slightly different way. I really enjoyed it and found it motivating. You can check out Mark’s blog here. It’s also on my sidebar.

Another book I read recently is Tim Ferriss’s The Four Hour Body.

I like this book as well, but with some caveats. It has a ton of great information along with some “interesting” information and opinions. Believe me, you’ll know it when you see it. (Let’s just say that a certain Aunt would be so proud.) 😉 I had trouble putting into words my hesitation about Mr. Ferriss's writing, until the husband helped me out and said, "He does not appear to understand the concept of the soul". He got it in one try! One of the things Ferriss did say in the book that has really struck me as true, is to build up your confidence by doing new things. It will spur you on to greater achievement. I'm not quoting, just giving you the jist of it. I can truly say after ziplining over 8 different gorges in Hawaii, that he's right. Doing something like that is a big confidence builder and motivator. He also goes into some depth about kettlebells, which I found intriguing. We now own two.

What fitness and lifestyle books are you reading right now? Any that you would recommend?

Heads You Lose – A Book Review

Let’s get this out of the way right from the beginning. I am in no way qualified to review books. But in the grand tradition of the internet age and blogging, I am going to do so. 😉 This novel is written by Lisa Lutz of Spellman Files fame, and David Hayward. This is Hayward’s first novel.

Heads You Losewas written in an interesting manner. The authors were never in the same location and they each wrote every other chapter. As they sent the chapters back and forth, they included notes to each other. Those notes have been included in the published work.

I gathered from reading the correspondence that David and Lisa attempted a novel together in more traditional fashion, back in ancient times, when they were dating. An abandoned work called The Fop, which they use as ammunition on each other quite frequently. I think we can all be grateful that 1) they never married way back then, and 2) the only love/hate child these two have produced thus far is this novel – a good thing. But a tortured 13 year old, who would undoubtedly be the main source of funding for some therapist’s BMW – not a good thing.

As for the story itself, I enjoyed it. I don’t think I would have as much, without the included correspondence. It’s interesting and quirky, and I had no idea who the killer was. I wouldn’t say that I liked it as much as her Spellman books, but I would still recommend it and I’m not mad that I paid full price. So if you are looking for a fun summer read, pick it up. And if you haven’t read the Spellman Files and all of it’s siblings, get on it!

PS I feel like a traitor to my beloved books- I bought a Kindle.

7 Quick Takes Frday

This post is linked up to Conversion Diary.

1. I have almost always disdained coupons. Because I almost always forget to use them, and they create paper clutter, which I do not need any help with. My mail problems contribute to my paper issues quite adequately without help from coupons. After listening to a podcast about coupons and how to organize them along with reading this post at Young House Love about their savings, I am determined to try once again. I know some sites to check and I’m going to start taking the local paper. I know exactly what two folders I need to buy, and I am positive that I can be successful this time. Do you use coupons? Have any favorite sites you use to print coupons?

2. The Mechanic. My husband and I want to go see the new Jason Statham movie, which is a remake of a movie by the same name from the 70’s starring Charles Bronson. My husband was somewhat confused by my reaction to his suggestion that we watch the original on Netflix On Demand before heading to the theater. Charles Bronson may be a good actor, but Jason Statham he is not. I go to Jason Statham movies to see Jason Statham. Duh! Apparently, the husband was under the impression that I just love action movies. 🙂
PS Do not watch the weird movie Jason Statham did a few years ago where he has hair and is impotent. That’s just wrong! He was very believable and I thought it was going to be a “Jennifer Jason Leigh situation” for me. I can’t watch her in anything without remembering her icky character in Single White Female. Luckily, I have mostly been able to erase Mr. Statham’s performance in that creepy movie from my mind.

3. Penelope Trunk has written yet anotherinteresting and insightful post about Gen X. It’s about Volkswagen’s Super Bowl ad. You can find the ad here on You Tube. As is my custom, I am warning you once again not to read Penelope’s entire site unless you are prepared to know a lot about her life which is a bit distressing.

4. My little sister got engaged last weekend!!! Congratulations, Katie & Matt! We are very excited for you. May you have a blessed and happy engagement as you get ready for this wonderful sacrament!

5. It has always been assumed in our house that I would be useless in a crisis. This comes up a lot after the husband watches zombie movies. I am now used to being informed that in the event of a zombie apocalypse, I will be left behind. Guess who was the more together when awakened by fire alarms on Wed. morning. I’ll give you a hint, not the husband. He couldn’t wake up and he was C R A N K Y until about 4:00 PM. Honey, you might want to re-think your zombie strategy. I just might be an asset. 😉

6. I have been digging books by Julie Klassen recently. Blogger, Anna See, from An Inch Of Gray made the recommendation. I have thoroughly enjoyed the three I have read. If you like romance novels, but are trying to steer clear of anything too explicit, these might be for you. Can be found in the Christian Literature section at your bookstore. BTW, have you heard about all the financial trouble Borders is in? I’m really sad for them. I actually like shopping at Borders much better than the other one. Or even the big online kahuna. But the online kahuna is so convenient. And B&N is two minutes from my house. It doesn’t matter to me that Borders doesn’t have e-readers. I don’t use one!

7. Here is what we woke up to this morning:

I bet the people who came from up North to see the Super Bowl are not too amused by our unusual cold snap. I am praying for the promised temperatures in the 40’s starting tomorrow. Please! I’ve lived here for too long and I can’t handle this type of weather for extended periods anymore!

Have a great weekend!

Suggestions, Please!

People, I am in a reading rut! It’s more than ten days until Christmas (when I will surely get some new books as gifts) and I need something to read! So, what are y’all reading right now? What is your favorite book that you have read in the past year? Help a girl out!

The Time I Swore Vengeance On My Book Club

About five years ago a friend of mine asked me to join a book club with her. At the time, she was living in my current suburb and I was living 25 minutes away at our old house. The book club meetings always took place in her city. So I would drive and pick her up on the way. It was nice to belong to the book club and I enjoyed seeing my friend, who I didn’t get to see very often.

If you don’t know me personally, then you might not know that that I’m Catholic. All of the ladies in the book club were also Catholic. This is important later in the story. You’ll see. 🙂

We were reading things like Jane Austen (yeah!) and Shakespeare (I’m sorry but I don’t like reading it, only watching), Dorothy Sayers (yeah!) – you get the idea. About one year in, it was finally my turn to pick a book. I decided to change things up a bit and pick a book by a contemporary novelist, “The Inn At Lake Devine” by Elinor Lipman. It had been recommended to me in my early twenties by my sister-in-law and had become a favorite. I hadn’t read it in several years and I wanted to get other opinions. Be careful what you ask for!

The vehement dislike that some people in the group had for the book was startling to me. I was also shocked that they didn’t temper their comments a bit, since I had prefaced my choosing with an explanation of how much I liked the book. The author, Elinor Lipman, is a Jewish boomer who grew up on the East Coast and still lives there. She does what any good author does, she writes what she knows. This means that her beliefs and environs will be a bit foreign to a group of Catholic ladies in Texas who are a generation younger than her. I (obviously) don’t think that’s a bad thing.

I got comments like, “I’m so sorry I wasted my time reading this book.” Not only was this not constructive, but it was rude. My friend was there, but had unfortunately not had time to read the book. So she couldn’t defend the book or me. She did have the best comment when we got in the car and I will never forget it. She said, “Nichole, I could have told some of those women in there that you were a stripper to pay for college and they would have believed me!”. We laughed all the way to her house.

Of course, the story does not end there. One of my big flaws is that I can be a bit of a grudge holder. A little while after “the incident”, the husband and I took our amazing trip to Italy. On the plane ride back to the States, I had to borrow one of his books because I had read all of mine. I ended up reading “The Thanatos Syndrome” by Walker Percy. Walker Percy was Catholic. Walker Percy was also very cynical and many of his books are quite shocking. As I neared the end of the book – a plot was born. If the book club ladies wanted to read authors that have a similar value system to their own, I would give them one.

Luckily, I decided a few months later that it was unhealthy to be plotting vengeance on your own book club. My friend had also moved and couldn’t go very often. So, I quit. I now belong to a new book club that I really like. And they’ve even read Walker Percy (before I joined)! I did warn the hostess when she invited me that I had been plotting against my last book club when I quit. I figured full disclosure was in order.

Have you ever had your pick panned at book club? Are you scared of me now? Will you never read one of my recommendations for fear that I will go berserk if you don’t like it? I’m trying to reform, honest. 😉

A Minor Miracle

I’ve had it in my freakishly small, yet proportional to my circus like stature hands, for almost 24 hours. And I haven’t even cracked it open yet!

What Are You Reading?

The living room at my old house, featuring the bookshelves the husband sanded(3x), polyed(3x), and assembled.

I read all the time. And I usually read fiction almost exclusively. But every once in a while I get on a non-fiction, usually self improvement kick. I’m on one right now. I decided to search on Amazon last week for books that might be inspirational about home keeping. By inspirational, I do not mean a prayer or reflection for each day or week. I mean kick in the pants, fired up inspirational. I wasn’t extremely successful in my search. Maybe I needed better search terms.

I ended up orderingRadical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes. Haven’t cracked it open yet, but am a bit frightened by the illustration on the front cover. It looks like a roided out woman athlete from the old Soviet Block. There’s even a shadow over the armpit which suggests hair to me. Ewww!

I also ordered two books by Julie Morgenstern: SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life and Never Check E-Mail In The Morning. The last one seems more geared towards people who have a job, but I thought it might help me. I should be treating homemaking as my job, but I really don’t. The fact is that if I worked for someone else, I would do a better job (or I would be fired!). And that’s just wrong.

You know how Amazon will show you books that other people bought when they bought what’s in your cart? Well, a really interesting marriage book popped up and I got it. It’s called 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great by Terri L. Orbuch Ph.D.. What really intrigued me about this book is that she is getting her information from the longest running study on marriage in U.S.. These people had been in this study for 22 years at the time of publication. There was some interesting and surprising information in this book. She also debunks a lot of myths and quizzes you to see if your are a moron (my term, not hers) or not when it comes to your knowledge about marriage and the myths associated with it. It was an easy read and I didn’t feel as though I had wasted my time. Here’s an interesting tidbit, most divorces are caused by… frustration. Yet another argument in favor of my “whatever, jackass!” policy. If you have no idea what I’m talking about read this.

I’m in the beginning of the SHED book now, but not far enough to give an opinion. I guess we’ll know the verdict if I clean out the Room Of No Purpose!

It’s very possible that I will get distracted by fiction in the middle of my self improvement attack. I have the latest installment in the Spellman series waiting for me, taunting me. 🙂 But I think it’s easier to read a fiction and a non-fiction book at the same time, rather than two fiction books.

What are you reading right now? Anything you have read recently that you would recommend?

Books AKA Temptation and Salvation

I love books. I buy and read books all the time. My problem is that they are not always what I should be reading. For example, I’m supposed to be reading The Brothers Karamazov for book club. I am behind in my reading, but that didn’t stop me from reading Sylvester over the weekend. And I have this I can move onto, but I’m trying to resist the temptation. One bright spot in my reading over the last couple of months is Signs of Life by Scott Hahn. I can pick whatever chapter I’m interested in at the time and I’ve been learning/re-learning a lot.

Another category of books I have been buying a lot of lately is cookbooks. One would think that this would be a much safer category. One would be wrong. Many of my cookbooks contain sinful desert recipes. Definitely a temptation. Here is a list of the cook books I have been using the most during Lent and before Lent as well:
Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book – My aunt CJ and Uncle Mike gave it to us for our wedding. It is stained and spattered and I use it all the time. I know my aunt CJ did a lot of research to pick the best, most practical cookbook. She obviously did a good job, because I’m still using it almost 14 years (Holy Cow!) later.
I got this one several years ago when we first found out about the husband’s high cholesterol. Ditto for this one.
I found Saving Dinner through the Flylady.
As I mentioned in this post, we received Sacred Feasts for Christmas from D & J.
And now for the Big Kahuna. During the summer of 2009 I stumbled across the blog thepioneerwoman. It had been around and quite popular for a long time, but was new to me. And I became addicted. One of the things I like is that she photographs every step of her recipes. Someone like me needs that kind of help and reassurance. At the end of last year her cookbook came out and I dutifully waited in line at Borders with 800 other demented women to have mine signed one rainy December night. It was totally worth it and it’s the prettiest and most fun cookbook I’ve ever seen. Through Ree’s blog, I was introduced to the cookbooks of Pam Anderson. We are talking about a Pam Anderson of the brunette and non crazy variety. I now own two of her books and gave a short review of my favorite here.

What is your favorite cookbook and what books are you reading right now?

Happy Birthday to my little sister!!!