Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Stack of Books: September

Linking up with Anne!  This was an off month for me.  The number of books I read was way down from my usual count, but the start of school and extracurriculars was pretty hectic this year.  This was a pretty uneven month for the books, too.  I either loved them or disliked them.

Carry On, Warrior
9/10 This book is so full of good stuff.  I may have mentioned this before, but I think I'm going to have to order my own copy just so I can dog-ear and highlight the living daylights out of it.

Pardonable Lies
10/10  I had originally started this one right after finishing the second in the Maisie series, and I was feeling a little burned out on it.  I put it back on the library's shelves for a few weeks, and when I came back to it, I was so happy that I had returned to it.  This book was fantastic, and I can't wait to read the next--although I am making myself wait!

Mansfield Park
Oh, Jane, I'm afraid to say this, but this was the second in a row that I haven't loved.  Honestly, I skimmed the last 60 pages.  I read the afterword that came in the edition I had borrowed and I really enjoyed that--it was all about how these characters just aren't likeable.  Ugh!

The Distant Hours
I walked away from this one after about 70 pages.  I think after my tepid Northanger Abbey experience I am just not in the mood for any gothic intrigue.

So there it is--not a banner month, but I do have a stack of books lined up for the next four weeks that I am excited about.

Monday, September 30, 2013

What I'm Into: September 2013

School and the after-school activities have resumed this month, so I'm back in business.

I think I may start charging by the mile.  The schedule is shaking out so that I have somewhere to drive to for drop-off or pick-up at least three nights a week.  When I have kids in the car, they want to listen to the radio, and they have a knack for preferring songs that I do not like.

When I am in the car alone, I listen to this:

and this:

I went back to the library for that Punch Brothers again.  I like it so much that I think I'm going to buy it.  Ditto for the Avett Brothers.

After suffering some Maisie Dobbs fatigue last month, I went back to the third installment and loved it.  Like, want to go check them all out and read them one after another loved it.  But I am going to take my time, if only because there are so many other books I want to read!

After not really loving Northanger Abbey (and feeling weird about not loving one of Jane's books), I am happy to say that I am enjoying Mansfield Park more than Northanger Abbey.  And thanks to the dog, I will probably be buying the library's copy!

Have you been to Glennon's website?  After I read Carry On, Warrior, I checked out her site.  I think I want to live there.

Say hello to my little friend!  (Please tell me you're hearing Al Pacino's voice when you read that...yes?)  The vet told me that she (the dog, not the vet) is about five pounds overweight. I think I've met more neighbors in the year we've had Honey than in the previous seven years because she and I are out walking every day.  

When I'm not driving children or walking the dog, and I actually want to watch some TV, I find myself up against College Football.  This is my husband's thing--his favorite time of year, his favorite thing to watch.  Fortunately, the season is about one-third through, and the games are usually only broadcast on Thursday nights and Saturdays.

On other nights of the week, I have a few shows that I'm excited about.  I love this show on Monday nights:

Last Tuesday, I made a point to sit down and watch The Mindy Project.  I really like this one, too.

And I don't usually watch 10:00 shows (because I don't like to stay up until 11:00), so I may add Elementary to the DVR schedule.

That's what I've been into for September.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten On My Fall 2013 List

Linking up with The Broke and The Bookish today.

Here is a list of ten books I hope to read this fall.

1. Mansfield Park

2. Emma

3. Persuasion

4. Sense and Sensibility

5. Pride and Prejudice

6. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James

7. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

8.  Evolving in Monkeytown by Rachael Held Evans

9. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

10. The House at Riverton (or any title by Kate Morton)

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Stack of Books: August

I'm linking up with Anne again.

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
8/10  Cute story of aspiring actress in New York.  In my mind, this was Lorelai Gilmore, so I was expecting more coffee.  #twodaybeachread

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
9/10 Can't decide if this is exactly how I remember first love, or if it is exactly how I wish it had been.  I really admired Park's parents.  #wistful
The Getaway Car by Ann Patchett
8/10  Enjoyable.  Patchett explains how she writes, gives advice to other writers.

The Other Preacher in Lynchburg by John Killinger
6.5/10  My pastor loaned this to me because he knew I had attended college in Lynchburg where, campus legend had it that Jerry Falwell had referred to us as the "intellectual whores on the hill."  Killinger's time in Lynchburg ended two years before I arrived, but it was interesting to get his perspective on life in town there.  I gave him points off because he misspelled my alma mater a couple of times.

The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett
7/10 Her debut.  Told from three points of view.  The story didn't tie itself up neatly at the end. Upon reflection, I suppose that is more truthful than a contrived resolution. 
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
6/10  Not my favorite by Jane.  I finished it a few days ago and I've been mulling it over.  So many characters seem undeveloped or one-note.  

Northanger Abbey is the only book I've read so far in September.  I have loads of nonfiction checked out, but I'm having trouble finding pockets of reading time now that our schedules are shifting.  I think it's time to check out some beach-y type reads to get me turning pages again.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Catching My Breath

Sometimes the Back to School routine is like playing in the ocean.  You see the wave coming, and you think you're ready to ride on top of it, but you misjudge. Instead of a fun ride along the top of the wave, you get pummeled by the wave.

I've been down underneath that wave this past week.  Getting turned upside down, feeling my lungs start to scream for air as I wait for enough calm to right myself and break the surface.

So I'm breathing now.  Before I go to work and then head off for a weekend of camping with the girl scouts.
On the beach, no less!

I'll be back next Monday with my Twitterature reads.  And after that, I'm going to attempt to make a workable rhythm for this new season.

Happy weekend, friends!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Goals for Fall

I get excited at Back to School time; it's another January, but with much better weather.  I think this is a much more exciting time to set goals because I feel more energetic in September than in January.  Here are some things I'm aiming to accomplish this fall:

Around the House

We had our foyer and hallways painted last week, and we had to take down all of our photos.  I want to re-work the arrangements and put them back up for us to admire.

We broke down and purchased a charcoal grill.  We agree that charcoal grilling is really a weekend activity, so I am making sure that my menu planning includes some weekend grilling.

I want to purchase some mums to display on our front steps.

Here are some goals I've already accomplished since coming up with this list:
Sew curtains for the sunroom.
Menu plan for the next few weeks.

I want to post at least three times a week.
I want to plan my content at least two weeks ahead.


This fall, I am going to re-read all six of Jane Austen's novels. I'm starting with Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park, because those are the two I've read the least.

I want to read one book per month about the craft of writing.


I am going to save up for a netbook.  If I get really ambitious, I may go for a full laptop.  I am the last one in line for the computer around here, and while the kindle is great for reading blogs, it is not good for typing.

Knit a sweater to wear at Rhinebeck this year (using the yarn I bought last year, of course)
Knit Christmas gifts for the nieces and nephews
Do one service project a month
Keep up 10,000 steps a day
Go to one high school football game
Take the dog to Bobby's baseball games
Give blood in November
So how about you?  What is on your list of goals for this fall?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

August Goals: How I Did

I made several goals for myself for the remaining weeks of summer and they kept me happily busy.  I think I did pretty well, and I also have a long list of fall goals that I will share this week.

Habit and Goal Tracking

I made a simple chart in my notebook that I can check off daily.  The most important items on that list are the daily calcium and iron supplements.


I ordered prints from our beach trip and put them in our photo album.  I even have some in frames.


I bought my FitBit last Friday.  It has been fun to see exactly how long those dog walks really are! I wish I had had one of these when we went to London last year.


Not only did I read a novel by Ann Patchett (The Patron Saint of Liars), I also read a book about writing that was by Ann Patchett (The Getaway Car).
I am slow in updating my Goodreads, however. 

And I have re-memorized some of the Robert Frost poems I had to memorize when I was in school.  It's all good.


My posting was uneven.  I posted for five days in a row and then I ran out of ideas!  I am working on setting up a long-term schedule.  I also need to space out my posting.  

I did link up in a few places in August, and that was fun.

August was a success in terms of the new goals.  Some of these goals overlapped with my goals for the year.  My cooking goal--one new recipe per month--didn't happen in August.

I'll be back later in the week with the Fall Goals.

Friday, August 30, 2013

What I'm Into: August

I'm linking up with Leigh Kramer again to share what I'm into this month.  I don't feel like I've been doing anything but reading, and that's not at all a bad thing!  But let's see what else I've been doing.

After borrowing several CDs from the library last month, I really haven't been searching out new tunes. The Punch Brothers CD is one I want to borrow again.

Chris Thile, who played mandolin for Nickel Creek (before they broke up) is in Punch Brothers, and I really like their sound.  I did borrow the latest Vampire Weekend from the library, and I thought it was okay.  I'm not rushing out to purchase it.

We really haven't been watching any television in the evenings.  The only fun thing we've been doing is watching AFV after dinner.

The home videos really do begin to seem like they're all the same after a while, but they're just so funny that it doesn't matter.  A good gut-busting laugh is a nice way to unwind from the day.


We borrowed The Incredible Burt Wonderstone from the Redbox last weekend.  It was cute.  Much better than the previews would have you believe.


I'll be posting my latest and greatest reads on the 15th, but I decided to give the Maisie Dobbs series a rest for a while.  I tend to go overboard on book series, and I felt like I was burning out.


I am going to Rhinebeck again this October, and I am determined to knit the yarn I bought last year into something that I can wear this year.  I've been on ravelry looking for a pattern, and I am all ready to cast on.

So what have you been up to?  Are you looking forward to the return of "regular TV" next month?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Getting Ready for Fall: Menu Planning

The kids ask me every day, often more than once, "what's for dinner?"

How can three little words cause so much stress?

This is my cookbook collection.
One of my goals for this year is to dig into these books and magazines to try at least one new recipe per month.  I have done fairly well with this goal (although August may be a bust).  It has been fun to try new things, and it has been even more fun to discover some keepers that can move into the rotation.

Jenny's post today gave me the menu planning jumpstart I needed.

With school resuming next week--and the extracurriculars starting soon after,  I need to have a quick answer to the question of what's for dinner.  And not just dinner tonight, but if I can have dinner planned out for the next few weeks, I will feel like the pressure's off.  Because really, just deciding what's for dinner is often the hardest part.  The cooking is no problem!

Much like Jenny does, I keep a written list of what we eat for dinner.  I keep my list in my Moleskine weekly planner.  I don't have a dedicated book just for our dinners.  It is so nice to be able to flip back through the calendar for ideas.  I usually write down this list on the weekends when I'm making our grocery list.

At this time of the year, I want to have several weeks of meals planned out. First, I made a low-tech list of just about everything I cook on a regular basis.  So much chicken.

Then I typed all those meals into Excel and turned it into a table.  I shuffled around some dishes so that we're not having chicken four nights in a row.  And here is my menu plan for Monday through Thursday for the next eight weeks.  Sometimes I think I'd like to have more flexibility in my weeks, but when life gets busy, I really take comfort in knowing that dinner is already decided.

Some meals are make-aheads, so I will work on those on the weekends and hopefully make double batches for those nights when the meal plan goes off the rails.  

One of my least favorite things about weeknight activities is that we end up eating around 5:45.  That's a little early for my personal preference, but I'd rather feed us early instead of waiting to eat after the activities.  I want to focus on making our weekend meals more special--that will have to serve as our main sit-down and catch-up time.  Even if it is our Friday take-out.

So how about you?  Do you plan your meals this far in advance, or do you like to have more flexibility in your week?