January 29, 2008
In addition to the reading and daily discussions about birds, we also watched "March of the Penguins" for the first time. And I can't stop thinking about it. I wasn't quite prepared for how extreme it would be. I have always thought of penguins as cute, happy, cold weather creatures, but I now have a whole new level of appreciation for them. Really gives new perspective on nesting. The father bird sits on the egg for nearly four months without eating and enduring some serious winter storms! While the father protects the egg, the mother is making a tortuous trek to and from the ocean to get food for her family (while also trying to avoid some very scary seals). With all of the challenges and extreme conditions, it is amazing that they continue to reproduce!
Here's our 2007/2008 reading list:
January: Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Februrary: Digging to America by Anne Tyler
March: Western Dress and Bound Feet by Pang-Mei Natasha Chang
April: Chu-Ju's House by Gloria Whelan
May: Beyond Good Intentions by Cheri Register and Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother by Jana Wolfe
June: "The Dying Room" (British Documentary about Chinese orphanges)
July: Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah
August: China Doll by Talia Carner
September: And Baby Makes Two by Julie Sheehan
October: The Good Women of China by Xinran Xue
November/December: : The Zhang Empresses (documentary film)
January 2008: China Ghosts by Jeff Gamage
February 2008: I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Re-inventing Modern Motherhood
March 2008: Peony in Love by Lisa See (we'll be attending a reading by the author which should be a lot of fun)
These funny "gumballs" are from our sweet gum tree in the back yard....keep thinking we can do some projects with these little guys.
Pecans that we picked while in Louisiana (thanks Vicki!)...now we won't be paying outrageous amounts of money for those little packets of chopped pecans in the baking section.
Since returning from our trip and dealing with several weeks of illnesses, I have to admit that our house has become a pretty big mess. At the library yesterday I picked up a book that I hoped would motivate me to get back on track (ie clear more than a pathway through the room formerly known as our living room but currently used as a dumping grounds for laundry, legos, and crumbs). The book seemed to be yelling to me from the shelf...how could I ignore the title "For Busy Moms, How to Clean Your Home Fast" ?
I quickly browsed through the book last night and I have to give the author credit. She has been able to market a technique for cleaning that I ( and surely other moms, too!) are very familiar with...the frantically run through the house stashing all clutter into closets, laundry baskets, and under beds (ok she doesn't advocate the under bed part, but it has been known to happen here). She calls it the "8 minute Emergency Cleaning Plan" which is put into place when someone calls to say they'd like to drop by. And she even has a 5 minute plan for "extreme emergencies" (like when the doorbell rings unexpectedly. She recommends three important steps (these made me laugh):
1) Drag out the vacuum cleaner and place in
middle of the living room
2) Squirt furniture polish into the
3) Put the can of furniture polish and a
semi-clean rag in the middle of the coffee table
When guests arrive, act happy to see them. Then
say "I apologize for my messy house, but I was just getting ready to clean".
I am committed to getting our house back in shape (beyond the emergency cleaning plans discussed above). Headed right now to show Noah what a mop looks like!
The first is the tomato bisque at The Loop. It is truly divine and even more delightful is the fact that my kids also love it (actually begging to go to The Loop for soup...not to mention that their salads and pizzas are good,too). So yesterday I picked up some tomato bisque from Fresh Market. Today we had the Fresh Market bisque with grilled cheese sandwiches and I am happy to report it has also become a family favorite. Which now means I am on the hunt for a good tomato bisque recipe. If you have one, please send it to me!
The second favorite new food discovery is Dale and Thomas Popcorn. Thanks to the Hess family we (ok mostly me) devoured one of their six sampler boxes. I am not usually a huge popcorn fan, but I am telling you there is something special about this popcorn. Now I know why it is one of Oprah's favorite things. Fresh, flavorful, and not full of kernels. My favorite flavor is the Twice-as-nice chocolate drizzle ...makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
And the third new discovery is BBQ Shrimp. Pris and Eddie swore this was an easy and tasty dinner and they kindly sent us home with two River Road seasoning packets (although I think we could use seasoning we already have for future dinners. We were lucky to have some very fresh locally caught shrimp and this is now a family favorite...super easy to make, quick, flavorful, and shrimp is a favorite food already (especially for Noah).
The fourth new delight is Galatoire's Godchaux salad. What a wonderful mix of flavors and textures. We had a nice, leisurely (ie no kids!) lunch with Pris and Eddie at Galatoire's Bistro and in addition to lunch they sent us home with the Galatoire's cookbook which means I will hopefully be able to replicate some of the good things we had that day.I promise I am not receiving any endorsements or payment for singing the praises of the above listed companies/products. Just wanted to share some tasty discoveries. I recently heard an interesting interview with Michael Pollan which has prompted me to think more about savoring food and the communal aspect of dining. So in that vein, I share these new favorites with you. I am sure food will be the topic of future posts since I am getting ready to read Pollan's book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" for one of my bookclubs. After reading Barbara Kingsolver's " Animal,Vegetable, Miracle" I have made a stronger effort to buy locally grown produce (or grow our own). I have a feeling Pollan's book will spur me on to do even more.
January 9, 2008
So instead I spent part of this morning venting to myself about the rising costs of milk. Why aren't more people talking about this? (perhaps they are, but I have been too caught up in our little domestic bubble). Seriously. The cost of a gallon of milk (over $4) is more than a gallon of gas. And I am not even talking about the organic stuff (over $5). Just plain old regular whole milk. It used to be more expensive to buy soy milk but that isn't the case for us since we became fans of Costco's soy milk which we buy in bulk and especially not with the recent cost of cow's milk. I did a quick on-line search and came across this article. Turns out feeding kids and feeding cows are both becoming expensive endeavors. And the funny thing is that around this time last year I was thinking/blogging about milk, but from a different angle. Perhaps we should get our own cow...
January 5, 2008
We had a good trip. Packed with visiting friends and family. Lots of holiday celebrations. Lots of good food. Lots of presents. And as with most of my trips back home I felt pulled in many directions. Wanting to see and do way more things than possible in such a short amount of time. But overall a good trip. Especially good to see my kids with their grandparents, laughing with their cousins, running in the fields with the dogs, playing with some of my favorite childhood toys. Good to see them so happy and free. Doing so many of the same things I used to love doing. The time flew by too quickly and before we knew it was time to load up again for our return trip. That was a big part of our two weeks. Lots of time in the car.
We are still working on the art of family car travel. I think we have almost perfected family air travel. We are pretty good at packing light. We have a good stash of items for in-air entertainment. We know what to expect (delays, lines, and eye rolling from other passengers traveling without kids). But long car trips are still fairly new to us (living on an island for our first three years of parenting didn't provide much opportunity for practice). My problem is overpacking. I get so excited thinking about all of the space we have in our van that I start justifying the need for more stuff....we might need extra jackets or more toys/books for the ride or that craft project I started four years ago,etc. And by the time we hit the road the van is packed to the gills. I tried to convince myself (and Adam) that we would surely return with less stuff since we were bringing holiday gifts, but somehow we came home with more stuff (which is still packed in the car since neither of us wants to deal with the dreaded task of unpacking).
A few things helped us survive the long drives. We broke the trips up by stopping to visit friends. Always nice to see familiar faces and gave us all something to look forward to after spending five hours stuck in a car. We also loaded the car with music (we enjoyed listening to Elizabeth Mitchell for the first time), This American Life episodes (especially enjoyed this one, books on cd (Shel Silverstein and Garrison Keillor...both have amazing words, memorable voices and both were favorites on the drive), and when really desperate we pulled down the screen for a mid-drive movie (do kids know how good they have it these days? if not, parents certainly appreciate the modern invention of in-car dvd players!). And the other important car trip tool...a bright yellow soccer ball which got kicked around during several stops.
So instead of dealing with the large pile of mail, the unpacking, the laundry, I am finishing up this post and heading to bed. Our own bed. My favorite pillow. My little "nest" next to the bed of books and magazines. A favorite family photo on the bedside table. Home again and it feels good.
Then we headed over to St. Martinville. One last afternoon of visiting with family before heading back home. We also hid our first letterbox by the Evangeline Oak.We wish you all a Happy New Year!