"If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dying of the Light

In Memory of
Aunt Denise
b. July 27  d. February 24, 2013

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
By Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,   
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Aunt Denise raged for nearly three years before her battle with cancer ended. In the end, she was surrounded by family and very much loved. 
She loved American history, teaching, tennis, and being around kids. She didn't much care for rare steak, mushrooms, or wet dog noses on her toes.
We will miss her terribly.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Showing My Love Through Carbs

And here I go, posting my Valentine's Day dinner. Again.
Actually, I started this blog six years ago on Valentine's Day. Here's my very first post. Oh, the naivety…

So carrying on with tradition, I made the heart-shaped dinner. And I tried really hard to come up with something that wasn't pizza, but just couldn't get away from the Italian influences. (And I stayed up 'til the wee hours the night before finishing the kids' valentines because there are child labor laws. Didn't get to some of the details. Sorry!)

Main Course: Lasagna

Regular recipe for lasagna, then I used a cookie cutter to make hearts on the top layer of pasta. Easy!

Sides: Garlic bread and Pears 

Usually, I soak the pears overnight in grenadine, which gives them a fantastic color and flavor. Totally forgot about that until about a hour before dinner. Garlic bread was cut with a heart-shaped sandwich cutter before being schmeared and toasted. And there was a salad because I try to eat healthier, but it wasn't heart-ish at all.

Drink: Raspberry Soda with Creamy Ice Cubes 

Since I usually use colored cubes and clear soda, I thought I'd switch it up this year. The ice cubes are made using Horchata, which doesn't actually have any dairy in it, but tastes so creamy. Really nice blend of flavors. Just wish the ice cubes didn't melt so fast.

Dessert: Danish Dessert

I had this at a dinner party years ago and loved the flavor and texture. The conversation hearts were the kind that you write yourself so I had a little fun with personalizing each person's dessert. And it was pretty tasty! But definitely needed more chocolate.

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pinterest Saves Valentine's Day

I have to limit my time on Pinterest. I get way too many ideas about what my kids should be eating, things I could be sewing, rooms to be painting, and weight loss plans to be following. Then I spend the rest of my time agonizing over the little details and never actually get anything done. Which results in blaming Pinterest for my shortcomings. But recently, Pinterest saved my hide.

Valentine's Day kinda snuck up on me. On Monday, I was completely unprepared. My kids needed Valentines for classmates, boxes for receiving their bounty, and I had a special dinner to plan. I finally got my act together on Tuesday. Wednesday was a mad flurry of gathering supplies, printing, cutting, taping, gluing, blowing on burnt fingers from all that hot glue, and keeping Baby away from the candy. I also found the guts to teach my seven-year-old how to spray paint…

All of the resulting Valentines were found via Pinterest:

Gnomes for Boo's class. These were glued in pairs onto cards that said "Hanging with my Gnomies," Gnome Sweet Gnome" or "Gnome is where the heart is."

Originally, the Boy wanted to make pet rocks. Then I showed him these and he was sold:

Added bonus? I already had the glow sticks so this was super cheap!

Baby's was easy. Since preschoolers can't read, having her write her name on each one didn't make much sense. This way, every kid knew exactly who the card was from:

(I cut off the portion with her real name.)

Da Boo refurbished a monster box from last year (thank goodness) and the Boy was set on this one:

It was actually rather easy! But here's a tip for ya: when the weather outside is freezing, spray paint doesn't dry.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: Haze

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. is one of my favorite authors. I've adored his Saga of Recluse series and it's various offshoots. When I got to meet him in person last year, there was no chance I'd be calm, cool, and collected. And I totally wasn't. After talking about his Recluse series for a few moments (and finally asking some questions that had bothered me since high school), he asked if I had read any of his other books. Gulp. So I vowed to make the effort. Haze is his latest book, set in more of a science fiction than a fantasy setting. And boy, is it different.

A thousand years ago, the United States crumbled and the Chinese took over, converting the world to a more efficient way of living, where excess is punished. Keir Roget, a descendent of the fallen North Americans, works as an agent of the Federation, seeking out rebels and wastes of resources undercover. His latest assignment sends him to investigate a new planet, one that was colonized by dissidents that escaped from Earth nearly 2,000 years before. He thought his goal at secrecy was simple enough. What he didn't expect was that they'd be waiting for him.

Here's the Teaser:
"His internal monitors indicated that he's lost a full minute of consciousness,but there were no recognized toxins in his system. Not yet. He'd known Marni wasn't trustworthy, but he hadn't expected her to attack or do whatever in a public restaurant in the middle of the day."
- pg 132, Haze by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

What are you reading?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cookin' Mama (but not the game)

I try to cook. I view it like being a doctor, in that every meal is really practice. Some are great. Some are  have us all brushing our teeth and gargling lemon juice just to get the taste out of our mouths.

Wanting to provide a decent dinner one Sunday, I planned to make pork tenderloin in my slow cooker. Mmmm…pork…

Sorry. Got distracted. And drooly.

So I got out my trusty slow cooker and move to set it on the counter. But I dropped it. Did you know the lids on those things are made out of the same stuff as windshield glass? Because they shatter the same way. (Probably shouldn't ask me about how I know about the windshield, though.)

Now I don't have a slow cooker. And being the *ahem* expert that I am, I have no idea how to cook this thing without my slow cooker. After I finished my panic attack(s), I ended up borrowing my neighbor's slow cooker. Crisis averted.

But I had just purchased a slow cooker cookbook. Sure, it seems like 95% of the recipes are for different versions of beef stew, but I still planned to get my money's worth. So I got me a bright, shiny, new slow cooker.

Ain't she purdy?
Now I have a new slow cooker. And a spiffy cookbook. 
But what if I don't want beef stew?

What is your favorite slow cooker recipe?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: The Eyre Affair

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The book for this week's teaser was a pretty quirky read. It's got all kinds of oddities, like a father whose face stops time, genetically reproduced dodo birds as pets, and all the overly obvious names in reference to literature (Paige Turner? Really?). But I read a lot of Neil Gaiman so I am used to the weirdness. I wouldn't go so far as to call this steampunk, but The Eyre Affair is an alternate reality, where times is flexble, literature is protected sometimes violently, and Jane Eyre never went back to Thornfield Hall.  I like how on the back of the book the main character is described in a quote from the NYT as "part Bridget Jones, part Nancy Drew, and part Dirty Harry."

Thursday Next is a LiteraTec Agent, charged with protecting true literature from fraud. However, she has a hidden ability, one that allows her to step into a novel, something she's only done quite by accident. When she's moved to a top secret agency to find a dangerous criminal from her past, Thursday isn't prepared for the aftermath. Seeking a place to collect herself and to discover the truth of what happened, Thursday returns to her hometown, where she must save the most famous works of writing from a madman. If she can get past her ex-fiance, estranged commanding officer, corporate corruption, and genius mad scientist uncle. 

Like I said…quirky.

Here's the Teaser:
"Ordinarily I would not have believed that Rochester could have torn himself from the pages of Jane Erye and come to my aid that night; such a thing is, of course, quite impossible. I might have dismissed the whole thing as a ludicrously complicated prank had it not been for one thing: Edward Rochester and I had met once before…"
- pg. 62, The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

What are you reading?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Don't Bother Me...I'm Reading

Mail Call!
Got a package from the lovely and talented Miss Angie from My So-Called Chaos. She's also the co-hostess for CG Swaps so I knew I was in good hands.

I just love when everything is packaged all cute and comes with little cards!

Book She Loves: Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Matthew Logelin

It's non-fiction. And it's incredibly sad. Those are normally two things I stay away from and the combination would send me running, but Miss Angie is fabulous so I will give it a try.

Book I Might Like: 1984 by George Orwell

I didn't read this one in high school. Since I've been on my dystopian kick, I hear a lot of references to this book, so I'm looking forward to finally being in the loop. And, hey, Miss Angie hasn't read it, either.

Book From My Wishlist: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
I read this forever ago. It's one of those books I want to share with my daughter, but can't remember enough about the storyline to get her interested. Soooo looking forward to opening this one. It will be like getting back in touch with an old friend.

And it wasn't just good reading goodness! Lookit!

Miss Angie obviously knows about my cupcake obsession. And I am loving the little notebook! It has already replaced a badly tattered one in my purse.

Thank you to Miss Angie and Beth for hosting yet another awesome swap! Just in case you were wondering, I sent books to That Spacey Chick at Ramblings of an Obsessive Compulsive.

Since the Groundhog saw his shadow, I think I will take a cue from him and curl up in bed with these books and not come out again until I'm finished. Or six weeks. Whichever comes last.

Happy Reading!

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