19 April 2015

Currently | 19 April

Time and Place // 9:24pm on the couch

Eating and Drinking // Redd's Apple Ale

Watching // A little bit of everything and as such nothing really stands out right now. I may have to re-watch Sherlock soon. I miss that crazy high functioning sociopath.

Listening // I have Good Omens on audio in the car at present, and I have to admit that while I am loving these books on tape, I do miss my music. I never listen to music anymore.

Blogging // I've been absent lately, but I have two reviews going up this week. One for the most amazing and awesome audio of Kathryn Stockett's The Help; another for the much more mediocre House of Night series.

Contemplating // Did I make the right decision to enroll in a Masters in Literature program? I hope so as it's done, but doubt keeps niggling my brain.

Teaching // Unsure. I was on maternity leave for the first 8 weeks of the semester, and jumping in at that point has been crazy. Typically at this point in the semester, the class is a community, we are friends and colleagues and co-learners. Not so this semester. I still don't know their names for heaven's sake. Things are going well, but I'm working at it pretty hard compared to normal.

Anticipating // I start Graduate Studies in Medieval Literature on April 27, and I am so excited! Oh, and MY BIRTHDAY!!!! Yeah buddy, my birthday is this Wednesday. Go me!

Hating // The excess weight I just can't lose. I shall have to find some willpower and effort soon.

Avoiding // Starting the new diet and exercise program.

Wishing // I could magically melt the fat off my body.

07 April 2015

Top 10 Characters I'd Like to Check in With

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. To learn more about Top Ten Tuesday or see the list of future topics click here.

Top 10 Characters I'd Like to Check in With

There are quite a few characters I feel a need to look up similar to friending a classmate I haven't seen in a decade. That need to check in, catch up, can be oddly more compelling for my fictional acquaintances than some real life ones. Wait, is that bad to say?

I must admit that many of the characters who first came to mind I did not include here, quite simply because I can find out what happens to them if I just read the next freaking book in the series. :)

04 April 2015

Weekend Cooking: Sausage and Spinach Pasta

How To: This recipe came about due to a bag of spinach and some left over chicken broth sitting in the fridge about to expire. I stared at the two unused items and wondered what I could do with them; I really hate throwing food away. A closer look at my random leftovers revealed a half an onion and three garlic cloves. Immediately images of pasta swirled in my head.

Step 1: Cook some noodles. I used medium shells as that's what I had on hand.

Step 2: Cook 1 pound of ground Italian sausage in a large skillet. When almost done, add in some chopped onion.

Step 3: Pour in 14 oz of chicken broth along with a good sprinkling of dried basil, an even better sprinkling of garlic powder, and a 14 oz can of stewed tomatoes.

Step 4: Bring to a boil, let reduce a bit. Add 8-14 ounces of chopped spinach. Cover and let the spinach steam on a med-low heat until done.

Step 5: Mix noodles and sauce. Mix in a solid 1/2 cup of Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese.

Change it Up: I put this together with what I had on hand, so there are definitely a few changes to be made. First and foremost, use real garlic cloves, 4 or 5, and add them in to the sausage at the same time as the onion. Second, a can or two of diced tomatoes may be tastier than the stewed; just a thought, not a fact. And finally, kale or a mix of spinach and kale is a good variation.

Pair it With: Bread. Seriously, can you eat pasta without buttered bread? My preference is for a nice, crunchy loaf of French Bread, but even buttered sandwich bread works.

29 March 2015

A Day in the Life of Yours Truly

I missed the posting day for Trish's awesome Day in the Life Event, but I thought posting two days late was no big thing. Let's get right down to it because there's a lot to cover from midnight to midnight: :)

12:53am Wake up and soothe a fussy Carter aka shove a sootie in baby's mouth and turn the vibrate on the bouncy seat. He has to sleep upright because of acid reflux. Yep, that's as fun as it sounds. 12:58 put sootie back in mouth. Sleep.

4:15am Wake up, put sootie in, back in bed, up again in 5 minutes, repeat. Finally give in and feed Carter at 4:38. Have to change outfit because he's managed to soak his clothes despite the fact that only half the diaper is wet.

5:12am Back to bed. Get out of bed twice to reassure Carter that yes, we do have to go back to sleep

6:30am Madison wakes up and calls for me. She wants to "cuddle in Mommy's bed" so I bring her back to my room. She falls back asleep with her face approximately 1/2 inch from mine. It's mildly creepy.

7:00am Get out of bed and head for the shower. Get clean, get partially dressed, blow dry, make-up, flat-iron, put on remaining clothes

7:20 Ready. Madison wakes up. Pee, brush teeth, get dressed, strawberry milk on couch while watching Odd Squad

7:35 I get my coffee and sit down
7:36 Carter wakes up. I stare longingly at my coffee. Go get baby. Change diaper. Enjoy beautiful morning smiles. Feed baby. Other baby eating granola bar (it's like she's a mini-adult)

8:00 Pile Madison, Carter, diaper bag, suitcase full of toys, bouncy seat, purse, work bag, and myself into car. Drop off all kids and kid-related items at mom's. Head to work.

8:30 At desk finally drinking coffee. A very, very large coffee. Prepare for day's lesson, grade, and otherwise do my job.

11:00 Go teach composition. Eat an apple on the way.

12:15 Back in office responding to drafts. Suck down some yogurt with granola. Wish I had a large pepperoni pizza.

1:15 Leave work.

2:00 Home. Eat Lunch. Quickly pick up house and get all the dishes in the dishwasher. I manage to horde all dirty dishes on the countertop RIGHT ABOVE the empty dishwasher until I have a full load. It's a sickness.

3:00 Head to mom's. Feed Carter and play there before heading home.

4:00 Arrive home. Carter pukes on me. I stare at my disgustingly soaked pajama pants and wonder if I have any that are clean.

4:30 I start a load of laundry. Madison helps. Afterwards we run around the red wall for 15 minutes while Carter watches, a look of confusion on his cute baby face. He falls asleep.

5:00 Start dinner. Sausage, Spinach, and Tomato pasta with a salad.

5:30 Play Berry Big City Cafe (a Strawberry Shortcake thing) with Madison. This involves a lot of talking in a high pitched voice for some reason.

6:00 Carter wakes up
6:15 Everyone gets to eat dinner but me as I feed Carter.

6:45 I get to eat dinner since everyone else is done. Then I get to clean everything up. Aren't I a lucky girl? :)

7:00 Playing Go to the Ball with Madison (aka Elsa in her beautiful sparkling, singing gown). I get to be Anna. We dance. We sing. We are awesome.

7:45 Get Madison ready for bed. She watches videos on YouTube with Daddy while I play with Carter.

8:30 Madison heads to bed with Daddy. Carter decides he's hungry again, so I feed him. He takes his time with this one.

9:30 Carter is finally done nursing his 6 ounce bottle, and he is now relaxing in his bouncy seat watching some television. He's fond of the news I guess.

10:00 Put Carter to bed. I get ready for bed - turn off lights, get bottle ready for night feeding, wash face, in bed.

10:10 Hop out of bed to ssshhh Carter a bit

10:11 Back in bed.
10:17 Sshhhh Carter. Sootie in mouth. Back in bed.

11:38 Madison has a nightmare. I get in bed with her an rub her back until she stops making those horrible nightmare-having-noises.

11:42 Back to bed.

Sounds like fun, right?

This was a Tuesday which is a strange cross between work day and home day. I often joke that I am a full-time college professor and a full-time mom as my job allows me to split my days. This means I end up doing a lot of work at night and on the weekends, but it's worth it. Afterall....

Wednesday morning before heading to Madison's gymnastics

Monday morning before bringing Carter to the doctor

Carter at the doctor's

Dinner last night

28 March 2015

Weekend Cooking: Grilled Squash Medley

How To: First chop up some zucchini, yellow squash, and asparagus and place it on a piece of foil. Then you simply, brush with oil and cover with any of the following:

  1. Parmesan cheese
  2. Shredded mozzarella
  3. Salad Supreme
  4. Italian Seasoning
You can put pretty much anything on this veggie mix. Use a second piece of foil to cover the mix and fold the edges to create a pouch. Grilling time varies depending on what type of grill you have and on how you like your veggies. Personally, I grill the pouches on medium-high heat for 15-25 minutes. If you like your veggies softer, cook longer (about 40 minutes).

I tend to make at least four pouches with different seasonings in each pouch. What can I say? I like variety.

Change it Up: You can also bake this dish at 450 for 20-30 minutes. And of course, you can add any other veggie you so desire. Red peppers and tomatoes work really well as an add-in - if you can swing it past the husband and children, which I can't. :) Eliminations work too - especially the asparagus as I really have to be in the mood to eat it.

Pair it With: Burgers (preferably of the not-cow-variety). I think brat burgers are the best, closely followed by potato-based veggie burgers, and then pork burgers. I'm a big veggies-with-burgers girl as I think adding in a potato is strange.... Burger, veggies, and pickles. All you need.

25 March 2015

Book Review: Ms. Marvel

The hype over the Ms. Marvel comic has been poking me in the shoulder, nagging me to read it and all the other comics I have on the to-read shelves. To start my journey back into graphic novel/comic territory, I inhaled the first 5 installments of Ms. Marvel, nicely collected into one book titled "No Normal".

Fun art, good humor, unique protagonist. I was very, very happy with my choice to read this one.

The protagonist is probably the lynchpin for this series: she is female, Muslim, 15 years old, and Pakistani American. She's also wonderfully geeky. Her difficulty syncing up her Muslim and American identit(ies) really speaks to readers; everyone has sides to resolve, contradictions within that are difficult to deal with.

My only complaint is the story seems a bit preachy at times with Ms. Marvel directly stating the lessons we are to learn. This sort of directness with themes annoys me, only slightly, but still.

I will definitely continue reading this series, and Madison has given it her stamp of approval. I'm not reading it to her, but she loves looking at the pages.

For much more intelligent and articulate reviews: S. Krishna's Books' review of Ms. Marvel has a great personal touch; Ana at things mean a lot offers great insight into the novel; and Aarti over at Book Lust makes great points about diversity. Go check them out!

22 March 2015

Currently | 22 March

Last Week's Highlights (with Lots of Pictures)

Carter's week started out strong, wearing some actual clothes instead of his typical footed-onesies
Then, he put those comfy pjs back on and went to sleep
He woke up long enough to watch some Odd Squad with the Big Sis...
And he let her push him in his swing
But, then he went back to sleep...

Madison was much more active then her lazy brother. She went to the Dentist for the first time, and things went really, really well. She loved her shiny, clean teeth (of which she has 20).

She made it back to gymnastics after a two week hiatus...

She also went to a Book Fair at Barnes and Noble where she played with Miniature Volcanos, Play-Doh, Therapy Dogs, Story Time, Craft Time, and a huge Panda named Bamboo.

While at Barnes and Noble, she reasserted her status as Queen of the Books and then engaged in some light reading...

After spending 3 hours in the bookstore, Madison and Mommy were all like..
Also this week:

  • Madison got a hair cut (3 inches off)
  • Mommy got a hair cut (just a trim)
  • Carter spent the night at Grandma Lori's TWICE!!!
  • Mommy and Madison went out to eat together three times- Panera, IHop, and Barnes and Noble
  • I ate a $40 plate of salmon that was absolutely delicious
  • I reconnected with a friend I haven't seen since high school
  • We had my mom and cousin over for dinner twice (fish fry one night, brat burgers the next)
  • I went back to work

So what did everyone else do this past week?

18 March 2015

I Got All My Sisters with Me!

Emily from Backlist Books - who is awesome - nominated me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award, and I can't thank her enough. It's been eons since someone thought my sporadic blogging worthy of an award, and I really appreciate it!

Hardcover or paperback? Paperback all the way baby.

What 2015 book are you most excited about? Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven King, the final book in The Raven Cycle series which. I love this series.

Which blog did you discover recently that you can't believe you didn't know about? Um...Backlist Books!

Judging books by their covers: yay or nay? Absolutely. If I am reading outside my norm, a cover can make all the difference.

What's the best book outside of your regular genres/topics/authors you've read in the past year? (You can extend this time-frame if you haven't been reading adventurously lately!) I really don't have a set genre, topic, or author; although I do read less nonfiction by far. I've read quite a few amazing nonfiction books in the past year, but most recently I read Freak Show by Robert Bogdan, and I was seriously impressed. It was such an interesting topic and the history of freak shows really captured my attention for long stretches of time.

How many books do you read in a week, on average, and are you happy with your number? One. If I'm being generous. I used to average 3/week before I had kids. Ah, the glory days before children.

What's your favourite book-to-movie adaptation? Lord of the Rings. The adaptation choices didn't tick me off, and I love both the books and the films on their own. I actually was so in to this series that I wrote my Masters Thesis on "The Rhetoric of Good and Evil in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings". That's right. I'm a total geek.

Which fictional world do you wish you could move into? Harry Potter is probably the most popular answer here, and I think it would top my list, especially if I was able to head into the world AFTER the downfall of Voldemort. But I'm also a sucker for Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments world, so I may like to try out some time there.

Which books are on the top of your TBR list? Because this is Backlist Books, which books published at least a year ago are highest on your TBR?

I have hundreds of books yet to be read, almost all of which were published at least a year ago, so it's difficult to truly decide which are "highest" on the list. I keep hearing great things about Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and I've had that one waiting on my shelves for at least 8 years, so that's one I've been thinking about lately.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera also takes center stage as a book I bought eons ago, but haven't picked up yet.

I could go on and on about my TBR piles as they are rather ridiculous. I guesstimate that I have about 500 unread books on my shelves. Sad, I know. And let's not even get started on my nook...

On that note, I believe I am supposed to ask 10 questions and nominate some lovely lady bloggers to answer said questions....

1. What time of day do you typically read/do you prefer to read?
2. What is your strangest book related obsession?
3. Like which author do you wish you wrote?
4. Who do you think is the most over-rated author?
5. What do you think is the most over-rated book?
6. Which two authors would you like to see go head to head in a word-off (like a dance-off)?
7. I've always wanted to read Lord of the Rings in a cabin in the mountains or Nora Roberts in an Irish inn or The Woman in White in an abandoned asylum. What book-location pairing do you wish for?
8. Describe your bookish self in three words.
9. Name one of your favorite characters and what you would do with him/her if you had one day together.
10. If you had one extra day in the week, that nobody knew about and didn't count, what would you with it?

And the nominees are....

Amanda from The Zen Leaf
Trish from Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity
Aarti from Booklust
Rebecca from Lost in Books
April from The Steadfast Reader
Vasilly from 1330v
Katie from Doing Dewey
Alex from The Sleepless Reader
Care at Care's Online Bookclub
Sara at (majoring in literature)

I sincerely hope you guys participate and let me know when you've answered the questions!