Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saturday Snapshot - The Ducks

I'm in bed today...turns out I don't have a virus...I have bronchitis, a sinus infection and my blood pressure is too high.
I guess I'm sick! :p

Days like today I really really appreciate my trusty laptop...I found this picture this morning...I had forgotten all about it :)

The Head of My Household took this photo...he had my camera to take pictures of a hawk that visits our lake sometimes and randomly snapped a few of our youngest.

I love how the sunlight is shining behind her hair and even her arms...I'll probably frame this one...if I ever get out of this bed!  I'm a very grumpy patient!





Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce @ At Home with Books.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Misery

I got a flu shot.
I promise.

Turns out whatever this other virus is has the flu beaten by a longshot.
I'm headed to the clinic nurse at school tomorrow and am going to give her instructions to knock me out.

If I happen to post goofy posts this weekend, you'll know why...oh, wait, why would that be any different than usual?
:p

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bossypants - Book Review



Bossypants by Tina Fey

Little Brown and Company, 2011
Why? A co-worker talked me into it...I also had read about it and heard it was funny, and I'm always game for lighthearted funny :)
What Now? will donate this one to the library or give it away


Golden Lines

I've never understood why every character being "hot" was necessary for enjoying a TV show.  It's the same reason I don't get Hooters.  Why do we need to enjoy chicken wings and boobies at the same time?  Yes, they are a natural and beautiful part  of the human experience.  And so are boobies.  By why at the same time?

On September 3, 2008, then governor Palin accepted the vice presidential nomination.   Around this same time, Oprah formally agreed to be on 30 Rock, and it was determined that my daughter's third-birthday party would have a Peter Pan theme.  Each of these events was equally important in my life.

Of course the final ingredient for a perfect Christmas vacation is a good Buffer.  A Buffer is a neutral party who keeps the conversation light.  Everyone needs a Buffer.  You don't think Mary and Joseph were psyched to see the Little Drummer Boy?

Of course I'm not supposed to admit that there is triannual torrential sobbing in my office, because it's bad for the feminine cause.  It makes it harder for women to be taken seriously in the workplace.  It makes it harder for other working moms to justify their choice.  But I have friends who stay home with their kids and they also have a triannual sob, so I think we should call it even.  I think we should be kind to one another about it.  I think we should agree to blame the children.

The Mother's Prayer for Its Daughter...
...And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, 
Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends,
For I will not have that Shit.  I will not have it.


Summary

What the heck is this book about?
Bossypants is about Tina Fey, the real person (woman), and her navigation of a sometimes not so real career in show business.  Fey begins with her childhood, adolescence, and her family but quickly shifts to her early days in community theatre, "Saturday Night Live," producing, directing, writing and improv, "30 Rock" and then her return to SNL due to her remarkable resemblance to VP candidate Sarah Palin.  
What Fey talks mostly about though is how she chooses to live her life as a working mother in the land of glamorous people and still somehow remain sane and most importantly true to herself.
The best way she does just that is to call the shots how they are...there's no hem-hawing around with Fey.


What I Liked 

The Humor.
Duh.
Even though this book won't go down on my list of lifetime favorites (heck, I'm not even going to keep the book), there were times when I laughed out loud.  Fey is funny; there is no doubt about that.  She's hardheaded, she's bossy, she has an opinion and she's not afraid to use it, and she's just as conflicted as every other mother/working mother in the world, 

The feminist tone - I actually think this is why my co-worker suggested the book for me.  Fey definitely fights the good fight in a male dominated workplace...sure, a lot of actors are women, but successful producers and writers, not so much.  And, even when women do find a seat at the roundtable, they are still pressured to look good and give up their careers to have babies...because hey, isn't that what a woman's life is really all about?

Discussion of family - Fey's parents, her husband and of course her daughter are obviously important to her.  In today's Hollywood, we don't always get to see that and even when we think we're finally getting to see a real person in Hollywood, they implode and we smack ourselves on the head, "Doh! Duped again!!"
Heck, I'm so naive I thought Demi and Ashton would stay together forever :p
Fey seems solid...and that's refreshing.


What I Didn't Like

Ok, I'm not a prude...but there was a little bit of language that made me cringe...comments like somebody "sucking a bag of *&%$#"
Ahem.
There were definitely times when colorful language was called for...like when producers complained about a certain show because "there was nobody on that show they wanted to f&%$."
Fey promises us that producers really do say those kinds of things so we'll see exactly the kind of people she sometimes has to deal with and the same ole perception of women as sex objects more than anything else.
O.K.
But, even I was caught off guard more than a few times.

I felt left out of much of the conversation about SNL and "30 Rock," and this was the deal breaker for me.  It's probably THE reason I won't keep the book.   I was a SNL fan up until about 1987. My friends and I used to come in from Saturday night outings in time to watch SNL at someone's house...that's how much we liked it...but I had long since quit watching the show by the time Tina Fey and Amy Poehler became regulars, and Tina Fey only showed up on my radar during the Sarah Palin years.  Heck, by the time she and Amy Poehler were in "Baby Mama," I had no idea who either of them were.  I never watched "30 Rock," and don't know one thing at all about it...except from the discussions in this book.  At times I felt like I was in an Anatomy &; Physiology class before I had finished Bio I.  I needed a foundation to enjoy these parts of the book...a foundation I'm unsure I could ever really gain after the fact.


My Overall Response

I "liked" this book, and I'm glad I read it.  I did have to push myself in the end because I just wanted it done, but mostly because the feeling left out of the SNL/30 Rock conversation began to get a little old.    If Fey writes anything else in the future...especially about life in general, I'll read it in a heartbeat...besides her obvious Hollywood connections, I think she really has  a lot to say about life, parenting, the people we interact with everyday, leadership, women's issues, etc. 


Recommendation

If you are a fan of "Saturday Night Live," especially the Tina Fey era or a fan of "30 Rock," I can't even imagine how you would NOT like this book.  However, I actually am not sure I would recommend Bossypants  if you've not watched these shows in the past though and/or are not a Tina Fey fan already.  There's just too much detailed information her about the cast, jokes, skits, actors, and even actual scripts.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wanna Be More Organized Wednesday



We've finally finished the last of the leftovers and tomorrow is payday...that means I have to accept that November is over (sniff, sniff) and December is here.  My children are nagging about getting the tree down, starting to bake cookies, etc. but I always like to linger in Thanksgiving.  The reason for the need to linger is that December sometimes drives me bonkers.  I know that sounds mean, but remember, I need things as calm and as structured (but not OCD) as possible.  December is ANYTHING but calm...and STRUCTURE??? You gotta be kidding me??  Over the years December has just become too much for me...so I hide from it and try to pretend it's not there.  Maybe I could get some of those blinder thingies horses wear?

Anyhoo, I'm in desperate need of groceries, have not organized my coupons, have to trips to plan for, have got some work stuff getting in my way of having our regular weeknight meals, and on top of everything else I"M SICK.  Dangit, I'm already feeling overwhelmed! December has creeped in on my November!!!  I usually wait to go to the doctor until I'm dying.  I'm not there yet, but it's getting close.  You know you need some meds when you have to stop chewing so you can get some air through your mouth :(
Going to the doctor also costs money...
That is NOT in the budget!!!!!!

That's not why I'm not going so don't get all panicky and tell me about how I need to take care of myself.  My mother already did that today.
Hi, Mom :)

I just need December to just take it easy. 
I'm a little anxious about the budget bc December is a rough one.  We've decided we will not charge not one item this Christmas.
Gulp.
I don't have a credit card.
See here for reasons why.
But, it's nice sometimes during the holidays to just clickety click online with my husband's card :D
But, guess what he did last month??
He chopped that thing up.
There is no safety net in place for December, and I'm a little nervous...I will have to be extra careful with my spending to make sure I don't run out...literally.

But, see, here's what makes me even crazier than budgeting...
I'm anxious and freaked out over what should be one of the most wonderful times of the year.   I wonder if I can take back Christmas the way I have committed to Thanksgiving?

It's worth a try.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - TBR Selections for Winter


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's theme is top ten books for Winter off your TBR shelves. My first thought was, "Didn't we just do a TBR list?"  But, as I browsed my TBR shelves, I realized that when I'm looking for something to read, I do have a very specific mindset, and one of the things that affects my book choice is what's happening outside...there are beach reads, scary stuff, gardening and outside stories, amongst a host of others that I probably read more at certain times of the year than others.  So, as I scanned my shelves I thought about what I would want to read on a cold, wet day just like the one we're having today. 

Winter is messy in Mississippi.  If we have snow, we don't have that fluffy stuff everybody else gets; we have wet slushy stuff that makes a complete mess.  Don't get me wrong; we enjoy it just the same, but we Mississippi folks don't have a clue what to do when the roads get slushy or icy; our electricity goes off, and we get stranded at home.  I guess because we're so used to being hot, it's pretty difficult for us to switch to such an extreme temperature.  Of course, I keep saying "WE"; it could be just ME ;)
Anyhoo, Winter is time to stay indoors in Mississippi, wrapped in a blanket and snuggled up by the fire.

All that said because Winter reading to me is cozy reading...similar to Fall reading but not necessarily spooky...Winter to me is cold, drafty castles or older houses and characters keeping warm whilst I do the very same thing.  Winter to me is Classics...but don't laugh because I haven't read these.  Yes, I'm an English major...but I was an American Lit fan, so when given a choice, I skipped over these titles in favor of early colonial American texts.  I  really haven't had time till now to think about going back and reading some of these.    

The following top ten list includes books by non-American authors and are all actually already sitting on my TBR shelves just waiting patiently.  Where do I start??  Any advice??  Warnings?

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Can you believe I actually own this beautiful annotated edition and haven't read it?  



Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
I know absolutely nothing about this one...except that lots of people say I should read it...ok, ok.




Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
My oldest daughter raves about this one...and chastises me every time she realizes I still haven't read it.




Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
My middle daughter hated, and I mean hated this one.  She begged me for the movie and Spark Notes for it in order to pass the test.  I wouldn't give in to either. 




Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
I read A Christmas Carol last year during the holidays and was so deeply involved in the descriptions of Old London that I didn't want the story to end.  I wonder if this Dickens will be as detailed?



Emma by Jane Austen
I actually saw this movie when it was made with Gwenyth Paltrow...don't snicker.  I was and still am somewhat of a Paltrow fan.  




Howard's End by E.M. Forrester
I've seen a snippet or two of this movie with Anthony Hopkins...but not enough to really know what was happening.



Mrs.  Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
I've read A Room of One's Own, The Hours and seen the movie "The Hours."  But, I've never read the Woolf novel that inspired Cunningham to write The Hours. Time to remedy that :)





The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I know this one is about a garden and a couple of kids...that's it.


Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
I'm breaking the law on this one...I've seen the movie...and cried and cried and cried at the end.  But, that was back when my older girls were little so I think I can enjoy the read just as much...if not more.




**I might have read these last two, but if I did, it was so long ago that I won't remember anything anyway :)  Besides that, I'd like to read them with an adult lens now.

Till next week...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankfully Reading Weekend Wrap-Up


I've never participated in a ReadAThon before because I just couldn't imagine somehow being able to just read, read and read without much interruption.   The weekend after Thanksgiving is usually a pretty low key weekend for me anyway though because I've spent the prior couple of weeks at least preparing for Thanksgiving.  So, I thought, why not??  Rainy, cold weather and a smidgen of the crud myself even added to my stay in bed or in the recliner and read mode.  And, nobody, not one soul questioned it :):):)

I finished 3 books this weekend: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, Bossypants by Tina Fey and The Children of Henry VIII by Alison Weir.  I took reading breaks in between them to go ahead and start the reviews while things were fresh on my mind.  I did a few dishes, kept the laundry going, graded just a few papers, and caught up on my blog reading, but other than those little breaks here and there over the last 3 days, I just read...just gloriously read.

Cold Mountain was my current read, so I finished it first, and I will still going be discussing it with my students this upcoming Wednesday.  I did finish my review for this one and posted it Friday. 

Bossypants was one I kept picking up and putting back down.  I was ready to be done with it though.  Tina Fey is funny as all get out, but I think I would have liked this one more had I been an SNL fan during her tenure or a 30 Rock watcher.

Last but not least, The Children of Henry VIII was one I wasn't rushing through...so much information to digest in this one...but I'm definitely now ready to move on to the next Weir historical narrative...good good stuff.

I'll have to work on some projects tomorrow and grade more than a few papers, but it was worth it!! 
Ready for the next ReadAThon!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Weekend Cooking - The Annual Thanksgiving Feast



I'm a pretty traditional person when it comes to Thanksgiving.  When I was first married, my mom would travel to our home in Tennessee and help me prepare the meal.  Then, one year she couldn't make it at the last minute, and I was on my own.  We had many phone conversations that year and the next, but after that, I was A-ok.  I absolutely LOVE preparing this meal.

To stay organized and to make sure I enjoy the process rather than getting overwhelmed, I started taking notes on my recipe cards and kept one card just with the menu and important reminders for the dishes that I only make once a year.  I enjoy looking back over my cards each year and seeing the little notes I make to myself.  So far this process has worked for me because I still enjoy Thanksgiving just as much as everyone else.

For this week's Weekend Cooking installment it only seems natural to include my Thanksgiving menu here with the comments I would add as reminders for next year.  


Turkey - Turkey freaks me out.  Yes, I know; I'm silly.  But, it really does.  I save it for last so that it doesn't touch anything else.  (I told you it freaks me out).  I've always used my mom's recipe for my turkey, but it's hit and miss...I'm also scared to death that I'm going to undercook the thing, and everybody will leave vomiting, so I usually overcook it.  It's certainly still edible, but it ain't memorable by any stretch of the imagination.  I know, I know, use the dang meat thermometer...I have one...but I always forget until I pull Mr. Gobble out of the oven and slap myself on the head.  I've wanted to try brining for several years, but I live in rural MS...the freshest turkeys I'm going to find around here are the ones running around in the woods behind my house.  And, I'm so not going there...the already dead ones freak me out enough.  So, frozen Butterball is my best bet, which means brining still hasn't happened.  However, this year I found an incredibly simple recipe over at Lisa's Buttery Books called Turkey with Rosemary ...oh. my. gracious. The flavor of this turkey was mouth watering...of course, if you don't like rosemary, you won't like this, but even my brother-in-law who is a discerning eater commented in the middle of the meal..."I can't believe the flavor in this meat!"
You do have to stick your hands all down in the turkey to rub the butter mixture between the skin and the meat...and that was tough for me...but the taste is worth the trouble.


Brown Sugar Spiral Sliced Ham - I let the Honey Baked Ham folks do their magic on this each year...I've tried to make my own exactly twice...it's just not even close to the same.  

Cornbread Dressing - this is my mom's recipe...it's one I just know how to do and really can't give you amounts, etc.  It has cornbread, onion, celery, boiled chicken, chicken broth, eggs, salt and pepper.  I always make too much and freeze a pan for Easter.  I did not add enough salt this year (I'm always scared of putting too much), so I need to be a little more generous next year.  I also was unsure of the number of folks coming, so I cooked the extra pan too...I didn't need it, but that's ok due to the salt issue.

Sweet Potato Casserole - I found this recipe in a Kentucky cookbook many many moons ago...I don't even own the cookbook anymore; I just have my recipe card...I don't do the marshmallow vs. brown sugar pecan topping debate...I use both :)  One of my nephews kept fly by pinching the melted marshmallows before I could get the dang thing on the table this year.  And, several of the kids asked about this casserole as they walked through my front door.  (Can you see my smile from ear to ear?).  Several years ago at my middle daughter's request, we were going around the table taking turns telling something we were thankful for while the marshmallows browned...in the middle of the prayer we smelled smoke; sure enough, I had caught the marshmallows on fire.  We scraped them off and ate the casserole anyway :)

Green Peas - from the can...LeSeur baby peas are best...boiled with just a little butter 

Mashed Potatoes - the real kind...boil potatoes, drain, add butter, salt, pepper and milk.  Whip with hand mixer.  The kids like to make a "bird's nest" with their potatoes and put their little green peas on top.

Corn Casserole - this  is my mother-in-law's specialty...it's the very easy Jiffy recipe, but I cook it to death. We decided a couple of years ago that it was best if this became her Thanksgiving task from now on.

Roasted Asparagus - I love asparagus, and I try to add some veggies to my menu that are not casseroled to death.  My mother-in-law used to make an asparagus casserole because my father-in-law liked it so much.  I kept up the recipe for the first couple of years after we lost him...but nobody else eats it, and it just seemed so much sadder to have to scrape all that down the drain after the meal.  This year I decided to branch out and roast some fresh asparagus.  This is such a simple process, and it only takes about 10 minutes...found this on PW's website.  Roasted asparagus has also earned itself a spot on our traditional Thanksgiving menu.  I think Pops would have approved :)



Green Bean Bundles - Most of our family won't eat the traditional green bean casserole...I tried several different variations and then finally just started heating up green beans from the can.  I'm not sure what my people have against green beans.  The Green Bean Bundle recipe was a new recipe last year, and it was delicious, so it has become a staple.  3-4 green beans wrapped in bacon and cooked with brown sugar, butter, garlic powder and onion salt.  Yum!!!  There are 80,000 versions of this recipe on the Internet...some using fresh beans and very few using canned.  I used canned this year, but fresh would be a good tweak to make although it would add some cooking time.


Yellow Squash Casserole - this was a new recipe as well...also from Lisa @ Buttery Books.  A lot of my family is reluctant to eat squash, but the ones who tried this casserole were blown away by it...the buttery goodness brings out the taste of the squash and doesn't overpower it...This one's a keeper too and will be on the menu next year.  Even better as leftovers :)




Pumpkin Pie - my youngest will eat pumpkin pie with her fingers...I've tried several recipes since she likes it so much, but I never get the filling correct...it's edible but not very pretty and tends to be more like pudding than pie towards the middle.  This year on Pinterest (what else?), I found a recipe and video on The Joy of Baking website...I decided to give pumpkin pie one more shot...and it WORKED!! My little one actually cut herself a piece of pie and held it in her hands while she ate it!! SUCCESS!!



Butterfinger Pie - my middle daughter's specialty - Butterfinger bars, cool whip, ice cream and a graham cracker crust.  There's never anything left of this recipe.  The first year she asked to make this I almost didn't let her because I didn't think it really fit the Thanksgiving menu.  I'm so glad now that I did.  It's so special for her to have her own contribution to the day...one that is most welcome!! 

Pumpkin Trifle - this is the only recipe from this year's menu that won't make it to next year.  I make this recipe several times each fall and take it to potlucks at church...always to rave reviews.  Nobody but my mother-in-law touched it at Thanksgiving.  Ain't goin to all that trouble to throw all that stuff away.  I will replace this dessert next year with my old standard Bourbon Bread Pudding.   As we were sitting around eating dessert, my brother-in-law asked my husband, "Did she not make bread pudding?"  Husband said, "Did you not make bread pudding?" Oy.



Yeast Rolls - I use Rhodes frozen bread dough to make these...I spray my muffin pans really well early in the morning of Thanksgiving and fill each space with 2 dough rolls.  By 30 minutes before lunch the dough has thawed and risen to fluffy puffy heights.  10 minutes in the oven and I never have any of these leftover...no matter how many I make.  Easy Peasy.

Till next year :)


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Candace @ Beth F Reads

**After all the blog controversy this past week I feel compelled to say that none of the companies or name brands mentioned in this post know me, care about me or have compensated me in any way for reviewing their products.
Amen.