Monday, February 28, 2011

Book review: The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder

Image from here
This was a great book!  I knew I would love it when I saw the books that it talked about because they are some of my favorites.  The author does a really good job of talking about classic books as well as their authors and what we have to learn from them.

With each of the books and authors that are discussed, the author chooses a character trait that they exemplify.  Here are the characters and their character traits:

  • Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice - self
  • Janie Crawford from Their Eyes Were Watching God - faith
  • Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables  - happiness
  • Celie from The Color Purple - dignity
  • Francie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - family
  • Claudine from Colette's novels - indulgence
  • Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind - fight
  • Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird - compassion
  • Laura Ingalls from the Little House books - simplicity
  • Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre - steadfastness
  • Jo March from Little Women - ambition
  • Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden - magic
This is a wonderful book that made me revisit some of the wonderful books I've read and made me interested in reading some of the other books that I haven't read yet.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Revisiting our honeymoon

I FINALLY printed out the pictures from our honeymoon so that I can start scrapbooking our trip.  I'm picking them up later today and can't wait to get started!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

My husband cracks me up

This is the Facebook status he put up tonight:

Me, to my car, earlier tonight, and set to a certain song you might know..."I'd like to drive 'round town, but I can't get in," so I'm like, "F*** you!"..."Oh, my keys don't work, and I lost my remote, at the gym. F*** you, oh, and f*** keys too!"

Friday, February 18, 2011

At school today:

  • Four students were caught drinking alcohol at school (seriously!) and taken away in police cars
  • The school went on lockdown because we had to catch the students that were drinking
  • A student threatened another teacher during my class and was suspended pending expulsion
  • A student and I argued about his texting on his iphone during my class.  He said he wasn't.  I said he was.  I took his phone for the rest of the day
  • A student and I argued about my giving him a lunch detention for skipping out on my class the day before.  He ended up skipping the lunch detention and ending up in in-school suspension.  Then he ended up skipping out of in-school suspension so who knows what's next.
Why did all of this happen?  Because someone mentioned in our staff meeting on Wednesday that it had been a quiet week so of course the week couldn't continue to be quiet.  We always manage to jinx ourselves.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Book review: Belong to Me

Image from here.
The book Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos was every bit as good as her first book.  I listened to both books and I know that part of why I like the books so much is because I really like the woman who reads them Julia Gibson.  The characters are wonderfully written.  They are believable and sound like people you would want to know in real life.  Besides that, they have wonderfully unique names, which

The book is actually a continuation of her first book, Love Walked In, told from the point of view of the main character, Cornelia, and two new characters, Piper and Dev.  Cornelia and her husband Teo have moved from the city to the suburbs, which she's not sure she likes at first.  She meets her neighbor, Piper, who seems completely perfect and put together and judgmental of everyone who isn't also perfect and put together.  Piper does reveal a softer side of her character when she's spending time with Elizabeth, her best friend who is dying of cancer.  Dev is a teenager who is much too smart to be popular with the other students in his school.  The connection between Dev and the other characters doesn't become clear until later in the story, but it's interesting to hear part of the story narrated by a teenager as well as a boy, which contrasts nicely with the narration of Cornelia and Piper.

The plot has enough twists to keep things interesting without feeling forced.  And I was completely surprised by how everything came together in the end.  I would definitely recommend this book!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I'm linking this post to the Soup-a-Palooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dishsponsored by Bush’s BeansHip HostessPillsbury and Westminster Crackers

Tidy Mom

My mom is known for her love of entertaining, but not so much for her love of cooking.  Sure she'll cook when she and my dad are having people over, but she'd much rather spend her time making crafts than food.  So most of the recipes I learned from her are simple to prepare and completely delicious.  Her chili recipe is no exception.  I served it at our housewarming/meet our puppy party and got all kinds of complements on it.

My mom's chili recipe:


  • 1 large can V8 juice
  • 1-1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
  • 2 cans red kidney beans
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • any other spices or additions you'd like  (We've been known to add onion, noodles, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, etc.)
Combine in a large Crock pot and cook on low until warmed through.  I usually let it simmer for most of the day.  Then I serve it with cheese and sour cream on the top.  Mmmm...

One trick to this recipe?  It's ALWAYS better the next day.  I have no idea why but everyone I know swears that it's true.

Monday, February 14, 2011

This weekend involved:

Image from here
  • taking a trip to the library
  • going to bed early and sleeping in.  (Andrew and I have officially decided that we're old.)
  • taking long baths with lots of candles
  • finding out that my dad bought an ipad two weeks ago that I'm just finding out about now!  I think I'm addicted to the fruit ninja game now.  Have you ever played it?
  • playing with Schmoo
  • a Valentine's date, which I posted about yesterday...
  • lots of reading.  I'm in the middle of five books at the moment so I'm trying to finish at least a few of them!
  • finishing the audio book I was listening to
  • singing at church
  • going to three open houses with my mom (two of which were in our neighborhood) and deciding that I wouldn't trade our house for any of them.
  • snuggling Butterball while watching TV

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A perfect Valentine's date (for me)

Image from here.
Andrew and I didn't have anything specific planned for Valentine's day but knew that we wanted to do something so this weekend we had a Valentine's date.

Our date consisted of going to lunch at Carrabba's, then shopping at Goodwill, going to the gym, and then out for frozen yogurt at Orange Leaf.

While going to the gym is definitely not my idea of a good date, I had promised that I would go over the weekend since I skipped going earlier this week and went home to take a nap instead.  And of course getting to go get frozen yogurt afterwards helped too;)

Friday, February 11, 2011

My love of the library

Image from here.

  • It always makes me happy to go to the library.  I end up in a better mood when I leave than when I came.
  • I have my library card number memorized so that I can place holds on books using the website without having to look at my library card.
  • I love that I can place holds on books using the website because I usually can't remember the names of the books that I want to read when I'm actually at the library.  This lets me get the books I want to read without having to carry a list of them with me!
  • I always participate in the reading programs.  I started when I was in junior high continued through high school and then volunteered for the high school program when I was to old.  Now I participate in the adult reading programs.  I love having the acknowledgement that I am someone who reads, especially when some people don't read much these days.
  • My favorite place to look for books is the new books section.  I get to scan all of the titles of the books in a few minutes and almost always find a book I want to read.  I also read a lot more nonfiction than I did before I started scanning the new books section.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Recipe: Peanut Butter Chicken (in the Crockpot!)

We made this recipe from Crockpot 360 for dinner last week and it was wonderful!  I love a good Crockpot meal because you can throw everything in, cook it all day, and come home to a great meal.  I wasn't sure how this one would turn out, but it was better than I had expected so I thought I'd share it.  I wish I had a picture to go with it, but we ate it too fast!

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, cut in chunks 
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky, your choice)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon curry
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth

Put all of the ingredients in the Crockpot.  Stir as well as you can to combine (the peanut butter will be clumpy and that's just fine).  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours.  Serve over rice.

Monday, February 7, 2011

This weekend involved:

  • Spending way too long shopping for scrapbooking supplies
  • A quiet night at home scrapbooking and knitting after a five hour work week because of all of the ice and snow
  • Enjoying a fabulous dinner out at Dunaway's eating amazing food, drinking good wine, and laughing nonstop with good friends
  • Going to church
  • Lunch with friends to prepare for Andrew's interview
  • Watching the Puppy Bowl on Animal Plant
  • Watching the Superbowl with friends and family
  • Watching the new Glee episode

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Book review: Beneath a Marble Sky

I've had the book Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors on my shelf for a while.  I'm pretty sure that I got it in the mail from Barb a while ago because it's about building the Taj Mahal.  I had started reading it once before, but gave up a few chapters in.  This time I started it again and eventually got into it.  It tells the story of Princess Jahanara, whose father eventually ends up building the Taj Mahal in honor of her mother.  Jahanara grows up in the royal court and has to learn how to live in a society where women are given little power and little choice over what happens to them.

My favorite line from the story is, "...women are taught that there's no strength in our tears.  But why are tears powerless, if those tears lead to insight, or a sense of peace?"  Mostly because it shows the power that women are given in the story and because it speaks to the power of showing your emotion, which I usually end up doing.

While it wasn't my favorite story I've ever read, it was interesting because of the history behind it.  The other thing I found really interesting about it was that at the end of the book the author includes a letter to the reader.  While it's not completely unusual to address the reader, I like how honest and sincere he was.  It made me like the book that much more.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kurt Vonnegut or Why I Now Like Some Science Fiction

I love Kurt Vonnegut.  I haven't always.  I read Cat's Cradle in high school and totally didn't get it.  I thought it was the weirdest book ever and that it didn't have a point, though why I felt like books had to have a point is another thing entirely.  When I started teaching, I knew that I wanted to teach some science fiction, specifically the stories of Ray Bradbury, but knew that I'd need a book to center the class around.  Enter Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five.

I first heard of Slaughterhouse Five from this conversation in the movie Footloose.
Mr. Gurntz:    "He was trying to teach that book."
Mrs. Allyson: "Slaughterhouse Five, isn't that an awful name?"
Ren:                "Yeah it's a classic...Slaughterhouse Five, it's a classic."
Mr. Guntz:      "Tom Sawyer is a classic!  Do you read much?"
Mrs. Allyson:  "Maybe in another town it's a classic."
Ren:                "In any town."
Image from
I decided that it was time to read it and see if I could use it for my class.  I read it, and while I found it almost as weird as I had found Cat's Cradle, I liked it!  I couldn't wait to teach it to my students, one in particular who I thought would really like it.  I've been teaching Kurt Vonnegut for several years now and was completely surprised when I had a student this year who had not only read everything that Vonnegut had ever written; he had also read everything that Vonnegut had read under the pseudonym Kilgore Trout, who is one of his one of his characters.

Another reason I like Vonnegut is that he's from Indianapolis!  He said in a 1986 speech, "All my jokes are Indianapolis.  All my attitudes are Indianapolis.  My adenoids are Indianapolis.  If I ever severed myself from Indianapolis, I would be out of business.  What people like about me is Indianapolis."  The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library recently opened in downtown Indianapolis.  There are all kinds of things on display there, including his typewriter and many of his drawings.  I'm hoping that Andrew and I will be able to go see it soon!

Friday, February 4, 2011

I have a favor to ask

If you read my blog can you follow me?

As much as I'd like to say that I don't need people to read my blog for me to blog, it is nice to feel like people are reading the posts I'm writing.  To me, following and commenting on a blog is the best way of showing support for a blog.  I've been making an effort to follow and comment on the blogs that I read to show the people writing them that I truly appreciate their writing.

I have a few wonderful friends who follow me at the moment, but I thought I'd put the invitation to follow me out there.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Important questions

"Do you know someone fighting on the front lines in Iraq or Afghanistan? How about a family in your town that has a loved one serving? Legendary newsman Tom Brokaw says if you can't say yes to one of these questions, then you don't really care about the war or the men and women who are fighting in it. Tom says what concerns him most is that people don't think about the sacrifices that these brave soldiers and their families are making for our freedom. "
This is an excerpt from an article that was written about a show that Oprah did with Tom Brokaw about the bravest families in America.  You can read the rest of the article here.  I was completely touched by this show and this article because it made me think about the fact that this war that's been going on for years does not affect the day to day happenings of me or most Americans.  As it was put on the show, "There is an epidemic of disconnection."

While watching the show, my heart broke for the mother who visits her son's grave in Arlington National Cemetery and reads the book Corduroy to him She said that "It makes me feel like I'm still doing something for him."

I don't know what else to say except that I'm grateful for the men and women serving our country and for their families that are enduring just as much as their loved ones that are serving.  I'm specifically thinking of roommate from college Barb's brother, my co-worker Nick's brother, and my brother's friend John.  I'll be praying for them all today.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A must read interview

Do you read the blog Persisting Stars?  Madelyn did an amazing interview with an artist named Amanda Ford.  Seriously, it is so beautifully written that it reads like a poem.  I have been reading it a bit at a time so that I can savor the way it's written.  You definitely have to check it out here!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Freezing rain

We had the day off from school because of the freezing rain that has been falling for about a day.  It's so thick that when Schmoo goes outside, he ends up sliding around on the ice that's on top of the snow.  While I was spending time trying to get over the cold I got over the weekend, which kept me home from school yesterday, I came across Odd Girl Out's post on the storm that included this quote.  I think it sums it up perfectly!
"There is something joyful about storms that interrupt routine.  Snow or freezing rain suddenly releases you from expectations, performance demands, and the tyranny of appointments and schedules.  ...All those affected this way are united by a mutual excuse and the heart is suddenly and unexpectedly a little giddy."  -The Shack 

Image from here