Friday, July 1, 2011

Furry Friday - Hermione

 After living 13 years with the very best dog in the world and the tragedy of having to put her down due to breast cancer, my husband and I finally decided that we might be ready for a puppy.  After 2 negative experiences (a Boxer whose mother carried and passed on red mange and an aggressive Rottweiler) we had just about given up.  The Head of My Household said maybe we'd have better luck with a smaller dog so we began quietly looking around for a Boston Terrier, a dog that he has fond childhood memories of.  

After Hurricane Katrina our local shelters were packed packed out, in fact, that even the no-kill shelters were running out of room, resources, foster homes, etc.  The newspapers were filled every day with pictures of dogs who'd been found, whose owners had had to leave them behind or who had been homeless to start with before the storm.  There were some success stories in reuniting animals with their owners but not as many as we wished.  

One day I opened the newspaper to find a picture of a Boston Terrier at a shelter about 30 miles from us.  The dog was a male and was a little older; I could tell from a little whiteness around his whiskers.  I knew our chances of him still being at the shelter by the time we arrived would be slim but my older girls and I took a chance and drove to the shelter.
When we arrived we went directly to the cage where the Boston Terrier was housed and the shelter worker told us his sad story and that lots of people had called about him after seeing his picture in the paper.  He was a cutie for sure, but in color and in real life a little older than I had even thought from his picture in the paper.  I felt a little uneasy and I knew I needed to think this decision through smartly.

We walked all throughout the shelter talking to and petting whenever possible the animals, small, medium and large who had no homes.  All three of us were on the verge of tears when we came to a few cages where the animals had been tagged differently than the others.  They had been at the shelter too long.  In order to give all the animals a better chance at finding homes, and having enough food and shelter opportunities, this shelter had no choice but to have some of the animals (those less likely to be adopted for whatever reason...survival of the fittest and all that) put down.  

One scruffy little dog was soaking wet...all the way to the bone...and standing in about an inch or two of water...the shelter was doing its best to keep taking care of animals while repairing its own damage, but water is a force to be reckoned with once it's been let loose.  The dog's misshapen little body was explained to us as a result of injuries that had not healed correctly...the dog could not speak...made no sound, walked with a limp, was hard of hearing and in such a pitiful state that she had been triaged to the unadoptable group.  Obviously this animal had been abused and misused.  They could make no guarantees of her mental state on top of everything else, not knowing what horrible experiences she may have endured.  Nor could they give us any idea of what size dog she would be since she was such a mixture of breeds. 

You know which one we adopted right??

We couldn't take her with us that day.  The shelter's policy is that all animals who leave there must be spayed and neutered.  We signed all the papers, paid the adoption fee and went home to break the news to the Head of My Household.  He was not happy about our final decision but at the same time not surprised either...he just rolled his eyes.

We took the little dog straight to our vet who gave her a thorough check-up, even some x-rays to make sure there was no hidden internal damage that we couldn't see.  Other than her weird shape (bones fused inappropriately), Hermione (we were avid Harry Potter fans) was pronounced in good health.  The vet did say that she was younger than the shelter thought and was not happy that they spayed her so early.  She predicted urinary difficulties in the future and definitely arthritis.  But, other than that, we were good to go.

Hermione is now 6 years old, a little more stiff, and still can't bark...but she is THE most loveable dog you'll ever meet.
The Head of My Household calls her the "Helen Keller dog" and her body is still really weird looking (which is why you'll mostly only see pictures of her from the front)...but we love her all the same and she loves us right back in her calm, silent way.

In the photo above Hermione is letting The Head of My Household point the leaf blower in her direction...notice her ears flopping in the wind ;)


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Review - The United States of Arugula

The United States of Arugula/David Kamp
Broadway Books, 2006
Oversized Paperback
Why? ReadAlong with Andi @ Estella's Revenge
What Now?  a keeper for the glass shelves

Golden Lines:

Let Julia Child so much as mention vanilla wafers, and the shelves are empty overnight
Time magazine Nov. 25 1966 issue pg 96

While today "grass-fed beef" is a luxury product that sells at a premium, pretty much all beef was grass-fed beef until the middle of the twentieth century. pg. 174

And so the industry-standard beef steer was, and remains, a prematurely pumped-up, inhumanely raised adolescent animal that has an aggravated digestive system and drugs in its blood. pg 176

...massive, high-volume operations whose pen-raised chickens, like San Fernando Valley porn, offered consistency and enormous breasts but little in the way of lasting satisfaction pg. 272

one can only eat marvelously by respecting the seasons pg. 151

Short and Sweet Summary:

Kamp's history of the food "movement" begins with classic French cooking...wives in the kitchen led by Julia Child's pinnacle cookbooks for hours preparing elaborate meals.  Then the reader is led through the beginnings of the restaurant circuit, food journalism and critics, the emergence of processed food and the newfangled "supermarket."  
Kamp then takes the reader on a journey through the 70's led by radicals such as Alice Waters who encouraged Americans to think globally and eat locally.  The Back to the Land Movement saw a rise in local farmers taking back big cities (particularly New York City) and creating communities where the produce was raised locally and the ingredients were pure.  At this point American food begins to take on a whole new identity...with Japanese, Italian and Mexican influences.  As a result, a entire new array of chefs comes to light and they create their own style of restaurants based on their own personalities and food preferences.  Examples of the "absentee chef" (Wolfgang Puck, Emeril, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Rick Bayless, etc) who owns a restaurant but is very seldom on the premises are used to fuel controversy that the high profile chefs are in the business for the money, not to feed Americans better food.  Kamp lets the reader decide whether or not purists and progressives will ever be able to get along and whose benefits are really at stake in the controversy.
The Big Three, James Beard, Julia Child and Craig Claiborne are influences discussed throughout each time period...and how our food in America has evolved to what it is today.   

My Initial Response:

This book was right up my alley...We are neck deep in trying to improve the way we eat in our household; one of the most interesting things to me to find out is that eating fresh and down to earth aren't new concepts.  Like everything else I guess, we've come full circle...processed food didn't really come to be until after the Leave it to Beaver moms returned to the workplace.  Maybe I knew this but I really had just never thought about it.  This book was chock full of info that really challenged my a matter of fact, I could probably re-read this one and get all new info from it. 

What I Liked:

Getting to know the chefs personally...Kamp has enough connections and put in some serious research for this many places he actually interviewed the person he was talking about and got their response on his take of the information presented by Kamp.

The bibliography - oh my heavens...I don't even know how many books I added to my wishlist from the bib

Chuck Williams of Williams Sonoma -one of my favorite stores ever...I'm sorry that I didn't realize they were real people :/ (I'm so ashamed ;)

Major foodie Craig Claiborne was a foodie before foodies even existed...again I'm stunned to admit that I didn't know Claiborne was from MS... and he even attended my alma mater, Mississippi State.

learning about pinnacle restaurants -
Chez Panisse, Four Seasons, Spago, Moosewood  Restaurant, Tavern on the Green

learning the history of Whole Foods Market, Dean and Deluca, Ben and Jerry, and the connection between Peet's Coffee and Starbucks.

reading about cities I already love and learning about their influence over what the rest of the country eats still today...New York, San Francisco, Berkley, and Los Angeles specifically.

What I Didn't Like:

There were several places in the book, especially towards the end in the last sections where I would lose track of who it was Kamp was talking about...I backtracked and could always find it but if that gives you any idea of how packed this book is with info...this is not a quick read where you can pay half attention to what you are reading and do something else...

the fussiness between some French chefs and American chefs...what's real...if a recipe gets changed, what's the big deal?? 
One Italian chef remarked that in Italy olive oil is a "treasure"...Americans slather it on everything
The same chef used the pasta primavera recipe as an example of a recipe that is so "Americanized" it looks and tastes nothing like the original.


Anyone concerned about the quality of the food we eat in the United that food came to be what it is...the people behind the food evolution...and lots of information will enjoy this book.  If you're looking for a quick easy surface level jaunt through food history, you won't be happy here though.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Layla

MY BABY!!!!!

I promise.  I really try to be wordless...but I just ain't got it in me ;)

Wordless Wednesday is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Bookish Websites

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.  I had a lot of fun with this week's top ten list because I haven't spent a lot of time on other "bookish" sites...I mostly read blogs.  I had to really look around on some other book blogs to see what sites other bloggers like.  As I clicked around the lists I decided on these 10 as my favorites for now...I actually can't wait to see everybody else's Top Ten Lists this week because that means even more bookish sites to peruse :)

Book Browse
 this is a book community and possibly my favorite on this list...blogs, giveaways, reviews, etc...and all searchable by books.   If I want to see what other people are saying about a book, I just click on that book, and anything and everything I might want to know about it is there.  I have only spent time clicking around the free stuff...there is member's content also.

 lots of reviews here but like the print version of long ago which I'm not sure even still exists today, this one has a classroom focus...

I've been a member of GoodReads for a while although I don't spend much time there.  To me GoodReads is a booking community that is similar to other sites with reviews and such but is also more of a social networking site, except people are brought together by books.  GoodReads matches your "friends" based on the books you like.  Pretty cool actually.

very similar to GoodReads but offers the reader the opportunity to catalogue his/her a library...duh?

mostly new books here...but also giveaways of those new books sponsored by the publishers.  I honestly use to enjoy reading Publisher's Weekly when I worked in an indie bookstore during high school and college.  I even thought about subscribing as an adult but the price talked me out of it :/ This site may just fulfill that need :)

What's really cool about this site is the background information, history and photos of the people and places in our favorite books.  This site could be incredibly helpful to book groups and to curious folks like me all the same.

I love using this link to find other bloggers' postings on topics, books, etc. that I'm interested in.  When Layla became a part of our family, I looked for other bloggers who blogged about German Shepherds...I was lucky enough to find Caribou's Mom this way :)

I'm an Indie lover...but I just cannot let go of Amazon.  Anything and everything I need is here.  You should see my WishList...holy smokes.  Sometime I like to just read my that weird?  Amazon keeps up with what I've ordered and when, ships me stuff automatically just cause and helps out tremendously at Christmas.  Literally couldn't live without this one.

I just learned about this one this past week.  This may be the kind of reviewing for others I could actually indicate on the website which books you would like to receive an ARC digital copy of and would be interested in reviewing instead of the publisher or author contacting you.  Also a pretty spiffy way to see all the of the new books coming out.

Another one I've just learned about...I've already signed up for the newsletter keeping me abreast of what's going on in the publishing world :)

I will definitely be adding a new spot on my blog with links to all of these and other bookish websites I've discovered so I can spend even more time on my computer ;)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Manic Monday - June 27

Reading/Reviewing Progress

I spent most of my reading time this week on Hit List...and I'm so glad I did. I was beginning to think Laurell K. Hamilton was losing her steam...actual storyline steam anyway...but I'm happy to report that the story has been revived...:)

Next up for me is the 17th installment of the Stephanie Plum series, which Amazon shipped to me automatically on the 21st when it was published.  Unfortunately for me I forgot I haven't read 15 or 16 yet :/  How in the world I managed to stop at 14 and wait on 17, I'll never know.  The good news is that Stephanie Plum's are usually fast reads so I hope I finish all three this week.

FedEx arrived this morning with 3 distractions...Season 1 of The Dog Whisperer, Be the Pack Leader by Cesar Milan and The Art of Raising a Puppy by The Monks of New Skete. I like distractions like these though :)

The review backlog still exists but I've started taking notes again in my little journal about the books I'm currently reading so I won't feel like I can't keep reading while I'm working on reviews.  Does that make sense?  The United States of Arugula review is finally going up this week; it originally was scheduled for last week but that was before I started Furry Friday, which I'm still very excited about :)

This Week's Posting Schedule

Monday - Manic Monday

Tuesday - Top Ten Bookish Websites

Wednesday - Almost Wordless Wednesday

Thursday - Book Review -The United States of Arugula

Friday - Furry Friday - "Hermione's story"

Saturday - Saturday Snapshots - "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"

Sunday - Weekend Cooking- one of the recipes listed in this week's menu :)

Since I'll be gone for a few days, for the first time I'm gonna try the delayed posting thingie on Blogger...I won't have internet access where I'm going so I won't know if it works until I get back...keeping my fingers crossed :)


Wednesday - steak and chicken kabobs, fruit salad and red velvet cupcakes (Youth Supper at our house)

Friday, Saturday, Sunday - I'm going to the beach!! Seafood!

Since I hummed this all day last Monday and am already humming this morning as I type this post, here's a blast from the past. :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Weekend Cooking - Hungry Girl

In order to add something to Beth Fish Reads lovely meme called Weekend Cooking, one must actually cook something every once in a while : /


I haven't been doing any cooking lately, but my middle daughter has been bitten by the experimentation bug.  She has begged me to let her cook something so today I told her that this Thursday night was hers.  She needed to make a plan, make her list, go buy the groceries and take control.

She has always liked to help in the kitchen but a cookbook on my firstborn's shelves caught my middle daughter's attention. 

Hungry Girl author Lisa Lillien is a regular gal who wanted to make her life easier with simple recipes, eat better and keep extra pounds under control.  Her Hungry-Girl.com website features many stories, recipes and a daily email newsletter for all the "hungry girls" out there.  Lisa's Hungry Girl recipes have actually been featured lately on The Food Network and the Cooking Channel.

Lisa's main goal I believe is to provide hungry girls a way to eat what they want simply by providing substitutions.  Obviously, yes, young women are Lisa's focus group; normally this would not be a cookbook I would pick up.  Even Lisa's recipe titles are a little too hip for me; we're having "hacked n' whacked santa fe shrimp supreme" Thursday night, according to my middle daughter.  I just hope she doesn't choose "loaded 'n oated veggie pizza" next :p

However, I'm on board with my own personal hungry girl learning more about food and how to take care of her body.  We don't talk about diets around here; we talk about eating healthy and making smart choices.  I also certainly don't mind turning over one night a week to somebody else...wonder if I could give another night to my firstborn...hmmmm.

We have also ordered these other two Hungry Girl books from Amazon:

If the kid will let me, I'll take pictures and report back next weekend on how Thursday night goes.