Monday, April 29, 2013

What I'm Into: April 2013

Is it really the end of April already? I'm not sure why I'm asking that, actually; it seems like it's been April forever. News events-wise, April really was the cruelest month, wasn't it? And it's been alternating a few days of hot and sunny with a week of cold and rainy all month: strange weather. Tired weather.

Here's what I've been up to:

Read and Reading

I've made the goal for the year to read at least one non-fiction and one fiction book each month, because it's too easy to just get sucked in to blog-hopping on my smartphone and never actually read anything of substance (not that blogs can't be substantive, but the brain reacts differently to words on a page versus a screen). I met that goal this month.

I blew through another bunch of the Temperance Brennan novels by Kathy Reichs. I wouldn't say these are stellar detective stories, but they're interesting because Reichs focuses each one on a topic so that it's almost like reading a short non-fiction book on Nascar or the Joint POW/MIA Action Command or diamond mining in Canada as well as a murder mystery. Quick reads, anyway.

I also read The Kingmaker's Daughter  by Philippa Gregory, but it was depressing, because everyone dies. Also: flashbacks to interminable college classes covering the literature of the War of the Roses.

For non-fiction, I slammed through Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber. And by slammed, I mean, I'm not sure it took me an entire twenty-four hours to finish it. I've never read a conversion memoir before, but I found this one compelling, if a bit overwritten (it's clear Weber is an academic. She can't help herself). Good stuff to chew on.


It seems like most of our shows took hiatuses for most of April. Plus, I'm really not into TV these days. I spend too much time staring at screens. It continues to be the DDH's favorite activity, though, so there's that.


We saw and enjoyed Oblivion (I love weird science fiction movies) and Django Unchained, which was surprisingly funny. I know people are love 'im or hate 'im about Quentin Tarantino. Let's put it this way: both Django and Lincoln are set in roughly the same time period, and I know which one I would rather watch. I don't care if that makes me hopelessly prol; it's true.


My CSA started up a couple weeks ago, and I'm having fun using up the different veggies we get. Also: does anyone know of anything interesting to do with pecans? So far I have about a pound and a half of local ones. The DDH and I don't really like them, but I hate to waste them.


T-Rex will be six months in May. This means I can finally go get my eyes tested and get new glasses. Also, that my baby is getting impossibly huge. Sniff.

What were you up to in April? What are you looking forward to in May?

Friday, April 5, 2013

A List of Lists: Purchases Edition

Because I have too many and simply can't justify it

1. Bags. I have closets full of purses, totes, luggage, backpacks...the answer is no. Somewhere we have something that can make do.
2. Baby clothes in sizes from Newborn through nine months. I gave away about half of what we received, and we still have enough clothing to outfit a small army of infants (now there's a scary thought).
3. Dogs. Or any animal, really. Well, except maybe some fish. Oh dear, I have a problem.
4. Body wash. I'm still recovering from a Bath and Body Works binge in my early twenties (ewwww, I'm not in my early twenties anymore!). I sold a lot of barely-used bottles of body wash, lotion, and body spray at a garage sale. I still have enough body wash and lotion to keep me clean and moisturized for another two or three years, at least.

Because I have too many, but I can always justify another

1. Books. Obvs.
2. Shoes. Though I have many shoes, I can always think of situations where I need shoes other than the ones I have. Also, my favorites get worn out, so I go looking to buy replacements, but it takes a long time to find shoes worthy of Favorite status, and so I end up with both ratty-but-well-loved shoes and lots of not-quite-perfect favorite candidates. It's a problem I really need to work on.
3. All-silicone spatulas. I feel this should be just as obvious and self-evident as books.
4. Washi tape. I'm obsessed with the stuff lately.

Because I chicken out on spending money

1. Nice jewelry. I want to have sweet or unique quality pieces. But I always end up buying (and getting lots of compliments on ) cheap costume jewelry from Target instead.
2. Rugs. I'm intimidated by buying rugs. I love how they look in other people's houses and on the internet, but I'm afraid of Doing It Wrong. Also, they're expensive.
3. Shampoo. I'm incapable of remembering to buy the stuff. It's a good thing the DDH has so little hair.
4. Curtains. I have purchased curtains for exactly one window in the entire house (the bay window, which is really three windows). The beagle ate those a couple years ago, so I replaced them and hung the chewed ones up in another window. Our bedroom has curtains I cut in half to fit the tiny window. All the other rooms have nothing. Oh, the nursery has the valances that match the crib sheets. Anyway. Curtains that haven't been masticated by a canine would probably be a big step up for my home decor.


1. Carrots. I buy carrots almost every time I go to the store. It's a hazard of owning a bunny.
2. Oatmeal. Because I eat it every day.
3. Ok, if this is a list of foods it's a dumb list. Ok, it's a dumb list. I just wanted to point out that I always need to buy more carrots. When in doubt, stick carrots in the cart.
4. Oh! I thought of something else. Notecards. Like, thank you notes, and the ones that are blank inside. Because mail is awesome.
5. And on a related note (har har): Stamps.

What are some of your entrants to these lists? What other lists should I make?
I love making lists. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What I'm Into (March 2013)

It was a busy March this year! St. Patrick's Day, Easter, and all kinds of other things going on. The month flew by. Here's some of what I was up to:

Read and Reading

I've made the goal for the year to read at least one non-fiction and one fiction book each month, because it's too easy to just get sucked in to blog-hopping on my smartphone and never actually read anything of substance (not that blogs can't be substantive, but the brain reacts differently to words on a page versus a screen). In February, I didn't finish a single non-fiction book; in March, I don't think I read a fiction one.

I did return Princess Academy by Shannon Hale on March 2, so I guess we'll count that. It was...fine. Not the best YA novel I've ever read, but not the worst. It did not inspire me to seek Hale's other works.

For non-fiction, I finished Siddhartha Mukherjee's The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, which I began last month. Maybe I'm naive, but I was not prepared for how devastating this book would be. It's an excellent, excellent book, and Mukherjee does a great job of tracing the history of cancer as seen through the lens of three or four particular kinds of cancer, though he focuses much more on the developments of the last century or so than of any older history of the disease.

But. While I was reading this, one of my good friends at church died of lung cancer. No matter what breakthroughs and success stories Mukherjee found in the treatment of cancer in the last century or so, I know how this story ends: without a cure and, for many, many people, without hope. It was hard to get excited or root for the small successes because I know the ultimate success is still so far out of reach.

Mukherjee is himself an oncologist, which greatly enhanced the book. He conveyed the mixed emotional bag doctors work from--the tension between caring about their patients as people and becoming inevitably, perhaps necessarily, inured to the suffering they see everyday, sometimes not even wanting anymore to fight the temptation to dehumanize their patients. It felt honest because it didn't always reflect well on him, and I appreciated that.

I also sped through In Pursuit of Garlic: An Intimate Look at the Divinely Odorous Bulb by Liz Primeau. While I'm tempted to pick up a copy to have on hand as a reference book (I grow garlic, as does the author), the book was not at all what I expected. I expected some sort of history of garlic, something more...narrative, maybe? But it's actually a garlic reference book (how to grow and cook with garlic) interwoven with a few of the author's personal stories involving garlic, including trips to two different garlic festivals. I don't recommend it as a book to read, but it would be useful if you want a basic introduction into using and growing garlic.

I've said garlic way too many times now in this blog post.


Once Upon a Time, of course, continues to enthrall. Seriously.

Season Two of Game of Thrones came out on DVD, and the DDH, the MIL, and I watched it, having watched Season One together back at Christmas. It may surprise you, knowing what a big fantasy buff I am, but I've never read the books. The DDH has, and has been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to watch the show (we don't have HBO and it's not shown on Hulu or Netflix, so I bought him both seasons for Christmas). Now we have to wait until Season Three is released.

Not for children. Not entirely sure it's for most adults. But it's very, very well done.


We were so, so disappointed by Oz the Great and Powerful. Yes, I'm one of those people who has read the books, but Oz is really a prequel to the iconic movie and not based on the books, and that's fine. EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT IT WAS TERRIBLE.

Part of what bothered me about the movie is that Oz is weirdly anti-woman, even though it made no sense for the story and in complete opposition to the source material. L. Frank Baum was married to Maud Gage Baum, the daughter of the prominent suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage, and the Oz books are strongly feminist. Almost all of the major characters are female. They are queens and witches (good and bad) and brave little girls from Kansas and sassy, outspoken hens and the adventures are about them and what they do. They rescue others; the rescue themselves--they are never (or rarely) rescued by men. They form close and powerful female friendships and platonic friendships with men (or male creatures, really; think Toto and the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion), but there are no romantic storylines in the books (at least partly because they are books for young children).

I'm not really one to drone on about wanting my entertainment to conform to some feminist ideal; I don't usually think there's some vast Hollywood conspiracy to present movies that aren't feminist enough. But when the industry takes source material that is so rich with powerful women and turns it into a plot-hole-filled farce about catty females waiting around for a man to step in and rescue them--it makes me wonder. Perhaps if the storyline had been compelling enough, I wouldn't be as bothered by the rest. Unfortunately, the story is so bad and nonsensical that I had way too much time to sit and reflect on all the other problems with the movie.

So. Yeah. There's that.


Speaking of garlic, my trademark Easter recipe (or my mom's trademark Easter recipe) is asparagus with lemon and garlic. It was a smash hit at the in-law's Easter dinner.

Also, the DDH bought me a ceramic cast iron Dutch oven for Valentine's Day and I cook almost everything in it now. I love that thing.


With Easter over so early, April should be a quiet month. I plan to get the garden going and do some other yardwork once the weather remembers that it's spring. 

What were you up to in March? What are you looking forward to in April?