Friday, January 27, 2012

Reading: I have been busy

I've been busy...
reading that is!
I am happy to report I have read two books on my list of 30. 
One I really loved...and one I did not.

The first was The Hours by Michael Cunningham. I really identified with one of the main characters in particular who realized that she was aging. Like, "What the hell?", realization. I, for one, found my first patch of gray hair this past fall and it hit me... I am aging. I am not 26 anymore. I am okay with that, but it was still a  very weird feeling. The character in the book has the same realization as she reflects her own twenties, and the love she has for a friend who is dying of AIDS. The  book actually focuses on three characters and their dealings with depression, aging and life, and has a very lovely turn at the end. Very well written, especially if you like Virginia Woolf, who is a character in the book.

The second book was by one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver. The Poisonwood Bible was all the rage a few years ago. I have been very hesitant to read it and I now know I should have stuck with my gut. I did not enjoy it one bit. Not sure why. Other than I found it to be a bit trite. I mean the story of a  heavy handed egotistical man being blind to the plight of his wife and family? A wife who blindly follows her husband because she has no other options? Children who are more observant than their parents? Nothing new. While I did enjoy the eldest daughter's internal dialog and the history of the Congo, I did not enjoy the book. Read The Bean Trees if you want to read a good book of hers.

I am reading The Omivore's Dilemma a little at a time. The subject, America's food supply, is a very dry one. However, as I am both fascinated and unnerved by how we get our food and what we eat. I see what many call a "potential for famine" in what we grow, as well as the cause for many of our national problems. The cost of growing, transporting and processing our food is beyond the seed and feed. We so much oil to produce our food that the military factors into the costs of our food. And, since we grow so much of one particular crop, should we have a blight or disease strike it, we could face a very serious problem. Very interesting, serious stuff.

More on that once I finish July at the rate I am going. It's a lot to take in.

I am currently reading a book about food. When French Women Cook by Madeleine Kamman is truly a lovely memoir. As someone who spent loads of time with my grandmothers as a child, I love hearing or reading stories about women learning to cook from their's. My grandmothers varied in ability and desire to cook, so I got a wide variety. Madeleine's family all came from different regions of France, so she received lessons on many different styles of cooking. Quite a lovely read and a cookbook as a bonus.

I read when I eat lunch, when I wake up and don't have to be anywhere (usually Saturday mornings) and at night before I go to sleep. Reading books is like eating a meal for me, necessary and fulfilling.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cooking: Monday and the search for a new drug

" I want a new that won't make me sick..."
Yes, I am quoting Huey...Come on, cut me some slack,I spent hours in skating rinks in the early 80's. I learned the songs.

 My quest to find a new source of caffeine has been interesting. I love coffee and drink lots of  very strong cups of it every morning. But it is taking it's toll on my stomach. I have been drinking tea instead and while it gives me my caffeine, it does  not taste like  my beloved coffee.

Source: via Tim on Pinterest

So, I asked all my Facebook friends if they had any suggestions and they did not disappoint.I am currently trying English breakfast tea. We shall see. I am not in love...but we are friendly.

This week, as always, we are running around. Band concerts, swim practice and orthodontic appointments to name a few things. So meals are to be  quick, easy and sometimes crock pot friendly.

I am also in a rut...too  much soup has addled my brain. Seriously, I made chicken soup, gumbo, and squash soup last week AND thawed ribollita.  My family didn't complain, but they were grumpy.

So, if anyone has any suggestions for dinners, please send them my way. Before there is mutiny aboard the SS Swann.

Dinner (no soup) at Casa Swann

black beans and rice, fajita meat
venison goulash, salad with almonds and pears
omelets (ortho day)
baked chicken, baked sweet potatoes,  black beans and rice

Enjoy this for the rest of the day....

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gratituesday: Could you, would you pray?

I spend a lot of time by myself. As a stay at home mom, I am in my head almost all day. I don't turn the television on unless I am sick (never) and I rarely talk on the phone. Unless I physically leave my house, I talk to very few people during the day.
(I do talk to the dogs, but they are poor conversationalists, very one sided in their topics).

precious, but not that bright or witty

I would like to say I pray, but the reality is that I don't as often as I should. Sometimes,  I pray in the shower, it is very serene there and very white, with little to distract my twenty first century mind. 
However, I don't really pray like I wish I would, like I wish I could.
I mean how hard is it to come out of my mind and talk to God? 
In my head it is me thinking of creative things I COULD be doing. Of delicious meals I will be making. Of lovely clothes that I wish I owned. In my head it is very easy to be comfortable and numb. my head...

Talking to God is awkward and intimidating. First of all, I don't really think He could possibly care about all the monotonous things I want to talk about (me, myself and I). Second, all I do is whine, whine, whine. 
Third, by the time I get to the end of the conversation, I have forgotten why I started it in the first place. I mean, really, I talk to dogs, for Pete's sake.

However, I know that I really NEED to talk to God and that He does care about the little things...I mean, "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows." (Luke 12:7) I have to admit, if He knows that little detail, He must care that I am sad my kids are growing up, that my finger hurts where I burned it, that my husband carries a very heavy burden at work and I feel there is little I do to lessen it. 

And the whining...well, I am whiny. "Little Tanya Whiner" didn't get the name being stoic. So, why shouldn't the Being responsible for making me hear my constant whine about every random thing.  And the rambling, well, I think anything is better than nothing, right? 

I believe in prayer, I know the effects of it are God's grace and presence being felt (He is always there, waiting). I see the devout women that I know that pray daily, openly and seek Him out. The light that shines from them is amazing. And surely, I am hoping, fingers crossed, that they feel like I do. That God has better things to do, like protect soldiers, and watch out for orphans, rather than listen to me ramble awkwardly. 

I am very conflicted, always in my faith. I feel that God does not make horrible things happen. But I also struggle to see how good faithful people can be allowed to suffer. What is the meaning of all of this? If I pray and pray for something to change, why doesn't it? If I ask and ask for a burden to be lifted, why isn't it? If I ask for healing, why do I not feel it?  I repent my sins, but still feel the guilt. 

Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) traveled around the globe looking for redemption and peace in her life. God led her to feed her body, quiet her soul and find love AND Him. Epic, surely, but very painful. 

Is the key to  her journey that she laid on her bathroom floor, asking, begging for help? It took years for her to find her path. Then over a year to get on it and travel toward healing. I sense that my issues are me, my failure to "stick with it" and my impatience with God's answer ( or my inability to get out of my own head and listen for Him). Reading Elizabeth's book lead me a few years ago to change how I prayed. I started asking God for what I wanted and listening for His replies.  The amazing thing is that I actually think it made a difference. Praying became easier, and I prayed more often and with better focus. I have gotten out of that habit, mostly because it is not an autopilot easy way to pray.

As I start this new year, my quest is to return to that exercise in being patient and open. To be less in my own head and more in God's world. I am ever so grateful that I have to opportunity to try, try again to get it right and build that relationship. God's grace receives me every time.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The list: it is growning

The new year is 13 days old. 
My to do list is slowly coming together. I don't want to rush. 
Mostly because I am lazy and don't want to think about it, but partly because I want it to count.

Thus far, I have the following:
  1. Stick to "it" 
  2. Purge like my life depends on it
  3. Get my kids to eat more protein for breakfast
  4. Get a job
  5. Finish my list of 30, plus read 70 more books
  6. Do my "Powers of a Positive Mom" daily Bible readings. 
  7. Exercise 5 days a week and keep a journal
That's it so far. I figure I will unearth more as I am purging, both my house and my soul.

It's Friday... time to rock around the clock!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gratituesday: We are family...I got all my sisters with me...

Had a lovely holiday season.

My extended family (sisters, brother, parents and 10 kids) all travel together every other year. This is a tradition we started 6 years ago in an effort to have a holiday where no one bears all the burden of entertaining and no one's house gets trashed. (Did I mention we have 10 kids???). My parents the last two years have given us kids a week at the beach for Christmas. Excellent gift, if I do say so.

So, we go to the beach for the week between Christmas and New Years. It is warmish and we spend a lot of time eating, playing games, watching movies, playing on the beach and generally having fun. We haul our stockings and (this year) a tree down with us for ChristmasNewYear. It's a high holiday for our family.
adults get stockings... made by yours truly
All the kids get to hang an ornament
Our kids are stair steps and they love getting together for cousin time. 
Rarely is there a fallout, but when it does happen, it usually is quick and done. They spend a lot of time digging on the beach. Which I always love about my kids in particular and any kids in general. Any kid who will dig and play in the sand is all right in my book.
some kids are older than others...
how deep?
connecting the ocean to the beach
Hershey kiss?
kid yoga
again...older kids
The adults really enjoy hanging out as we are spread over three states and even those of us that live "close" rarely see each other due to kid schedules, work and life in general. So, we all cook, eat, play games and laugh. We laugh a lot. My brother found a winery in Panama City and the siblings, plus the two spouses who were around all went. We hoped to relive our February winery visit. This one was not quite as special, but it did not disappoint. They probably thought we were "special" as we were cackling reading all the magnets they had for sale, such as "Jesus loves you. But I am his favorite" 
Good times, strange muscadine wine and Florida sensibilities made for a fun hour and a half.
Winery AND store 

We also watched several movies...

Played endless hands of Rummy...

 Learned card tricks ...

Put together two puzzles...
rummy and puzzles
And basically terrorized Seaside by showing up en masse to shop or eat or hear a band.

There were 14 of us in this store

and we did this...

and a lot of this

this was later...
Amazingly, we made it home with all our shoes, kids and lots of fun memories. My sisters and sister-in-law and I all laughed and made fun of each other in the way that only someone who loves you can. 

I got all my sisters with me!


I mean...seriously?
And my parents got to bond with the kids as a group. Which really, can be slightly intimidating, but they seemed to jump right in...

Overall, our souls and bodies were fed. We bonded and created inside jokes and texts. We saw a great sunset every night and had a lot of laughs to carry us into the new year. For my hilarious and loyal family, all those crazy kids and my supportive and generous parents, I am truly grateful.
Happy new year...

there are no words

Did we get all our shoes?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Food: New year dinner

My husband is a nut.
pink helmet...Step back...he's all mine!
 A health nut. He belongs to a gym that he loves and, as he has been working out there for almost 2 years, it is his home away from home.
Manly man...
They are always doing some sort of challenge to keep them on their toes.
Be it rowing from here to China on a rowing machine, or eating Paleo, they are all about it.
He loves it and is happy, so I am happy.
Their newest insanity challenge, is a food challenge for one month. He is eating pretty much what we normally eat, but subtracting all grains, legumes, or sugar and only one caloric beverage a day. Veyr entertaining watching my beer loving husband "ration".  He invited me to join in, which would have been fairly  easy for me as that is pretty much how we eat anyway. I usually only have one glass of wine at night , tea (no sugar) in the morning and water the rest of the day.

However, as I eat little if any animal protein besides eggs, I have to have my beans. 
So, I am not doing the challenge. But I am cooking for it.
If you are trying to reset your bodayafter a holiday of shoveling cookies, fudge and holiday beverages, this is a pretty good way to get it done. The hardest part is making it okay with your mind, and being creative with your food choices.

I am not a fan of "diets" as I have done most of the ones around and have always gained weight when I stop them, due to psychologically feeling deprived. I just try to eat sensibly ( high fiber/low carbs), avoid high fat/fried foods and processed foods, and drink lots of water. I don't eat potatoes, corn, or cheese (which I love) very often, as I have found they are allergens for me.
I do enjoy sugar and eat it way too much.

Doing this, my weight has stayed almost exactly the same for over three years. I fluctuate in my fitness level (read: sometimes I am a flabby tub of goo), especially after a big event when I am burned out (read:about twice a year).  But overall, I stay about the same. I feel like  if I stay active and exercise regularly, I can eat whatever I want, as long as I don't over do it and eat the whole sleeve of cookies. Which I have done, hence, I don't buy them. 40 has been hard on working cookies off!

The crazy people at Get Built know what they are doing, setting a pattern for good habits and not fad diets.  What are your tips for staying fit? Do you "diet" or just eat smart? Do you have tricks that you use to  manage your food urges?

Yannuary meals for Casa Swann

Ribollita for me, Chicken soup (with noodle for carb eaters)
Eating at my daughter's school after swim food in town, courtesy of Meg's dad
paleo salmon cakes, roasted sweet potatoes, oven roasted broccoli/cauliflower
Savory Squash soup and meatloaf

 I have made the salmon cakes and they are pretty good. Super healthy and very easy.
I "fry" them on my griddle.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reading: The new year

Last year my reading was all over the page, so to speak. 
I read any book that I found interesting when I picked it up. Sort of a zen style of reading...whatever caught my eye or crossed my path, I read. Or I bogarted my best friend's book club reads. Vicariously being in a club is the way to go.

Source: via Anna on Pinterest

This year, I am going to read with more of a plan or purpose, I suppose.
I am compiling a list of 30 books I want to read. As that is roughly half of what I read this year, I figure it is a good number to start with. Last year, I threw it out on Facebook that I was looking for something to read. I got a lot of great suggestions and so I am starting with those. 
Also, there are some "classics" that I have not read or have not read with an "adult" mind. 
(Who am I kidding, I am no more an adult than I am a runway model.)

I have been thinking about this list for a month or so. I perused the Barnes and Noble yesterday. I hit the McKay's before I went to the beach and bought a few that I intended to save until the new year. I have put a few on hold at the library (my love/hate relationship with our library is ongoing, but I am going to give it another try.) Hopefully between my girlfriends, the library, the McKays, and the occasional purchase of a real, NEW book, I will read all the books I want to read. 

Do you have any titles that you intend to read in 2012? 
If so, please, please, please share them with me. As I fully intend to set my goal at 100 again, I will need more books to flesh out my reading list. Sister LOVES suggestions!

The List of Books, 2012 edition
  1. Unbroken
  2. The Hours
  3. All the Devils are Here
  4. Boomerang
  5. Sarah's Key
  6. The Sound and the Fury
  7. Ulysses
  8. The Omnivore's Dilemma
  9. Middlesex
  10. Bossypants
  11. The Grapes of Wrath
  12. In Defense of Food
  13. The Poisonwood Bible
  14. The Paris Wife
  15. The Pillars of the Earth
  16. Kisses From Katie
  17. What the Dog Saw
  18. Wuthering Heights
  19. Steve Jobs
  20. Atlas Shrugged
  21. True Prep
  22. A Simple Path
  23. In the Garden Of Beasts
  24. The Complete Idiots Guide to Understanding Islam
  25. Jane Eyre
  26. Stern Men
  27. Van Gogh: The Life
  28. Wolf: The Lives of Jack London
  29. Salvage the Bones
  30. Delta Wedding

Friday, January 6, 2012

Whatever: New year purge

I have spent the last two days feeling under the weather, so I took down the Christmas and holiday decorations and finally unpacked all but two of my six bags I took to the beach.
(Before you judge, I had one bag of clothing and five other bags of things 
like games, shoes, toiletries, electronics, food, etc.)
Now, I am moving onto actually cleaning my house. 
Beyond the floor that needs mopping, the toilets that need scrubbing and the light switches that need wiping, there is always something when you have a house that is inhabited by anyone other than yourself.If it was me alone, the house would remain spotless except for my chair in the bedroom I pile clothes on and my  cluttered desk.