Wednesday, May 27, 2009

a special post

no, not really, but I made you look!  

I start another 10 day pet sitting job tomorrow so another sporadic blogging interval approaches.  I won't have to deal with real estate agents this time around so that's a plus!  I promised myself I wouldn't whine on and on about summer reading and I'll try my hardest to keep that promise...if anyone should have that privilege, it would be the people in children's.  Not only is it just capital C-R-A-Z-Y this time of year, but the schools went and completely changed their summer reading requirements and now, instead of following a list, it feels like the entire student population entering 7th and then the 8th and 9th graders are following us around asking for good books.  This is part of my job and I normally don't mind it, but between 1200 and 1500 people a day walk through the library doors and they are not all students looking for summer reading.  The kids get impatient, the parents get even MORE impatient, and our regular patrons just get disgusted.  It truly is a no win situation.

But enough about all that!  I have something truly special for you!  Now, most kids are out of school or soon will be.  That means many of you will be receiving them as visitors (i.e. other people's kids, your nieces, nephews, grandchildren, godchildren, etc) in your home.  What better time could there be to spiff up that extra room for the kids?!?!  

You know I've pulled out that venerable 1968 tome, Decorating Ideas for Every Room in Your Home!  And this time it's a two-fer, one for boys and one for girls, take a look!

Now, for the girls' room the book has this to say:
Flowers bloom in profusion in this delightful girl's room played out in matching wallpaper and fabric.  To create the illusion of greater space, short canopies frame each bed, while a single contemporary table-desk serves both as study area and nightstand.

Now, IMHO, matching wallpaper and fabric is NEVER a good thing but they were apparently terribly fond of it in the 60's because I see it in this book alot.  I doubt you can see it in this picture, but the little "table-desk" between the beds has a corkboard are just covered up in what I'm 99% sure are the Beatles.  As the crowning touch, and something I'm sure every teenage girl lusts after, a quill and ink set!  Those are featured several times in the designs in this book as well.  Little known fact.  Also, that totally creepy head on the top shelf to the left!  Couldn't you just imagine her doll-bright eyes turning on you in the middle of the night?!?!  

On to the boys, gird yourself for strength!  Here's what the book says about this walking nightmare:
A hardy, rugged look was achieved in the boy's room by the choice of a wallpaper that most successfully fakes the grain of outdoor shingles.  Wicker hampers painted black, and placed at the foot of each bed, stores additional linens.  Plywood shelf is made into a spacious desk.

Seriously people, take a good close look at that room and tell me it doesn't look a bit like a medieval torture chamber.  Who in the world would think it was a good idea to put two boys in a room with a dozen iron horseshoes, a riding crop, and what ever the hell else is hanging on the wall next to the fake horse head?  Just for good measure, they hung a horn of some kind on the tree thing and threw some apples and glasses on the table.  No officer, my sons were not doing anything inappropriate in THIS room.  They just play a bit rough.

That is all.

summer reading *insert psycho sound effect*

Here is what I and my fellow librarians feel like pretty much all day

Monday, May 25, 2009

The End of Overeating by David Kessler

Have you ever read or heard something that resonated through you like a tuning fork?  I graduated from the University of Montevallo with a B.A. in English and all graduates (as far as I know) had to take a Senior Capstone Seminar in their major.  That is where I had a teacher who spoke of literature and the resonance it can have when the reader REALLY identifies with the material.  It is something that elicits a feeling in your bones, good or bad.  This is what this entire book was for me.  Every page was an aha-moment.

I first learned about this book when I heard Dr. Kessler's interview on NPR.  If you are interested, you can listen here and here.  Many of the comments on the website are negative, saying nothing about this is new.  The FDA and food industry has known about this for years.  People have written about it again and again.  Kessler is behind on his research, blah, blah, blah.  You know what, it's new and exciting and life changing for me.  I have never heard about this.  I don't care if it isn't cutting edge.  I don't care. 

So many times, I have felt like a failure.  I have felt like I have no willpower.  I have felt like I was too weak to resist the things I love.  Kessler's research proposes that what all this comes down to is conditioned hypereating.  Your brain chemistry wires itself to make you respond to food rewards, like a rat in a lab.  Super palative food does make you feel better, your brain remembers that it did, so when you are in a position to see, remember, or smell this food your brain cues up the anticipation of the award.  I know I'm rambling but I am just super excited by everything I read in this book about what pushes conditioned hypereaters to overeat.  The compulsion, the drive to eat is so well explained that I just said, "Aha! That is exactly what I feel like!"

I will be buying a copy of this book for my personal bookshelf ImMeDiAtElY.  I want to make notes and be able to browse through it whenever I want.  If you don't struggle with food, good for you.  But if you do, I firmly believe you should read this.

Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire by Margot Berwin

OMG!  I haven't had this much fun in a while.  This little book, due out June 16th, is the PeRfEcT beach read!  

Hothouse Flower is the story of a young woman in her thirties (it's quite appropriate to call her a bitter divorcee) doing ad work she doesn't particularly care for and working for a super sleazy boss.  Her job is empty, her apartment is empty, her life is empty.  Shouldn't she be doing something better with her life?  Well, Ms. Lila Nova decides to start with one plant.  She finds  a plant stall at the local market owned by a man not like any Lila is acquainted with.  He is tanned and strong and has dirt on his hands and clothes that is more than superficial.  He sells Lila a bird-of-paradise and offers her a whole lot more.  A whole host of surprising things happen for Lila, only the beginning of which is the success she has with the first exotic plant.  Her association with the plant man leads her to actions and places she never could have imagined, and they just may lead her to herself.

I love debut novels!  I love the new ideas, new voices, the sometimes unpolished moments I find in them.  Never be timid to try something completely new, you just might be in for a treat as I was with Hothouse Flower.  The analogy included in my ARC is that Hothouse Flower is Eat, Pray, Love meets The Orchid Thief with a dash of Romancing the Stone on the side.  Yes, yes, yes!  You have some over-the-top characters in some over-the-top situations and I loved every minute of it!  It was fun, exciting, sexy, and thoroughly enjoyable.  Also mentioned in the ARC is that Julia Roberts has bought the film rights and is scheduled to star as Lila.  I will SO watch this movie if/when it makes it to the big screen.

So, if you are ready for some rollicking, rolling, sexy, fun adventure, put this on your summer reading list for sure!

awesomeness of the week, sort of

okay, it was last week, but I WON THE WEEK'S BIGGEST LOSER!!!  I won a stupendous $4 (since only 4 people weighed in) AND *trumpet fanfare* Supreme Dumpster Parking!  It would figure that the week I won the primo parking, the library would be closed for 3 days!  

Oh well, the spot is mine tomorrow and Wednesday then I will graciously hand my dumpster crown to the next lucky contestant.  We've been doing this for maybe 5 or 6 weeks now and I've lost over 15 pounds..not too shabby!  

I'll always be forthcoming about my progress and I have a little My Success sidebar item where I keep tabs on my Monday weighins.  That is where I weigh myself at home, first thing in the morning and um...without apparel.  Anyway, moving on, my weighins at work take place on Wednesdays and I am usually 2-3 pounds heavier having eaten breakfast and having drank (drunk?) at least 32 oz of water by the time I get to work and wearing at least a couple of pounds of clothes.  So, I don't really count that on the BIG CHART I keep at home.

I'm having a great holiday weekend so far.  My petsitting job ended so I get to spend a few days at home until the next one starts on Thursday.  Yesterday I hung out with my mom, aunts, and grandmother.  Mom was cooking steaks but I told her not to get me one and I bought some amberjack instead.  While she was grilling, I threw it in some foil with garlic, onions, olive oil, a bit of lemon juice and a modest pat of butter.  It was the best thing I've had in forevah!  And it felt indulgent so I didn't feel deprived.  At 8.99/lb, it was more expensive than the steaks anyway :-)

Mom filled a 9x13 with quartered red onion, squash she grew in the garden, baby carrots (from the store), and fresh string beans she talked some farmer into letting her pick.  Add some olive oil and sea salt and bake covered for about an hour.  I had myself the most delicious, earthy, sunshine tasting meal yesterday.  That's what I told mom, that I could taste the sunshine in those beans.  I brought some home with me, yay!

For the first time in a long time, I really feel like I can do this.  I can have a different life AND enjoy it.  I can be the person I feel like on the inside.  It'll take awhile, but I'll get there and I truly believe that this time I won't let it slip away again.  I've done that so many times in the past and I am a better person than that.  I am a stronger person than that, I guess I just needed the reminder that I am not weak and I am not a failure, that I am just fighting against a terribly strong enemy....that would be my own foolish brain!  That reminder, for me, was the book I just finished, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David Kessler!  That's all you get for now as I'll be reviewing it shortly for my 100+ Reading Challenge.

Friday, May 22, 2009

still here!

I've been doing tons of petsitting w/ no computer and have been SlAmMeD at work with no time to blog...I'll be back in business in a few days!  

Every have an ab fab Memorial Day!

Monday, May 18, 2009

1601, and Is Shakespeare Dead? by Mark Twain

So, 1601 is touted to be Twain's dabbling in the pornographic essay.  Um..not so much but it WAS probably quite naughty back in the day.  Unfortunately it is so hard to read, in the Oxford Twain edition anyway, because it is set in this convoluted fake Middle English-looking font.  The entire original title is 1601, or Conversation As It Was By the Social Fireside in the Time of the Tudors.  What you have is Queen Elizabeth, some of her ladies-in-waiting, Ben Johnson, William Shakespeare, and Sir Walter Raleigh in conversation about farting and sex, and they are being eavesdropped on by her cupbearer.  It is just a few pages long and it was more corny (to me) than anything but I can only imagine what kind of impression it made in the early 1900's :-)

Is Shakespeare Dead? was much more interesting to me.  In this short work, Twain lays out the reasons why he does not believe William Shakespeare authored all the works attributed to him.  I'm afraid I'm in the camp which Twain scorns, but he does give you alot to think about in terms of where and when Shakepeare may have acquired his knowledge of the variety of social levels and occupations which he writes about considering he came from a fairly illiterate household.  Twain votes for Ben Johnson to be the author of the works attributed to William Shakespeare...I guess anything is possible.  The literary criticism I've read about this all talks about Twain exploring his own fame by talking about Shakespeare's.  I thought it sounded a bit whiney at times (i.e. Shakespeare died alone and in obscurity but look at ME!  I'm popular and well known and I'm not even dead yet!) but overall I thoroughly enjoyed it.

What is Man? by Mark Twain

Mark Twain's philosophical essay, What is Man? is a sort of Socratic conversation between an Old Man and a Young Man. OM's argument is that we are machines driven by one thing and one thing only, contentment of spirit. I don't really care for his fiction too much but I'm on a second book of his essays and love how he thinks. What is Man? was written near the end of his life, while he was a more bitter and tragic figure than I ever knew Twain could be and it is very apparent in the OM's bitter rant. Bitter, but uncomfortably reasonable. Definitely worth a read if you have time and it's only about 140 pages.

Friday, May 15, 2009

fish in the sea

and books on the shelf

I just received the following phone call:

Me: _____ ______ Library, this is Holley.

Patron: Yes, I'm calling for ____ ____.  She wants you to get a few books for her and she'll pick them up this afternoon.

Me: Certainly.  What are the titles?

Patron: Well, I don't know.

Me: .......weeeellll.....

Patron:  She just wants you to set aside some books for her.

Me: Well, what does she like to read?  I need at least a few details.

Patron: Well, hold on just a minute.

***muffled yelling***

Patron: She says you have her on file.

Me:  *giving up*  Okay, I'll get something together.

Patron: thanks!


Now, I think our collection numbers well over 100,000 items in every genre you can imagine.   Let me put it in perspective for you.  I need you to go to Wal-mart and pick a few things up for me.  What are those items, you may ask?  You pick.


Monday, May 11, 2009

walked AND kicked my @$$

M and I snuck into the library's meeting room and worked out to this exercise DVD...I wish we had a shower here!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

in non book related news

I'm still going strong with the new life plan!  Exercising every day, eating lots of fruits and veggies, drinking lots of water.  I'm feeling strong!  Maybe I can win the dumpster parking before the contest is over!  Doesn't that sound thrilling?

So yesterday I saw Wolverine again with L (her first time to see it) and then, when she had to go to work, I went to see Star Trek.  I totally LOVED it!  I watched the tv series occasionally when I was a kid but the memories of that did not have any impact on what I enjoyed in the theater.  If any of my friends out there want to see it (or see it again!), I'll be glad to tag along!  

I have compiled my list of summer must-see movies and put it on a calendar at home.  It is 36 movies at the moment but I'm sure that will change as more things come to light, like the most intriguing District 9, which I saw the preview for before Wolverine.  Check it out!

What are you excited about seeing this summer?  I will post my movie calendar ASAP and we can compare notes!

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Just a few weeks before her 18th birthday, Jessica is staggered by news she refuses to believe.  She is a vampire princess, betrothed at her birth to a vampire prince inorder to bring peace between their two clans.  Jessica knew she was adopted from Romania, she even knew her name then (Antanasia Dragomir), but this she cannot believe.  It doesn't help that the prince in question, Lucius Vladescu, is an arrogant, bullying snob!

But soon she begins to feel a strange attraction for the tall, dark, slightly menacing Lucius and wonders if it is possible that she could be a princess, and his wife, after all.

Um, not my favorite.  It got a starred review from Publisher's Weekly and mostly positive customer reviews on Amazon but the lone one-star review said it best for me.  Fantaskey can't seem to decide whether this is going to be a light-hearted Princess Diaries-esque story or something much darker.  It really felt like a bipolar story, one minute dark and sizzling and the next cracking corny jokes.  It was a bumpy ride but I finished it.

Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert Massie

I barely remember studying this horrifying little piece of history in school, and I do mean BARELY.  I vaguely recall the whole Anastasia-craze news.  None of that will prepare you for what Massie's investigation has suggested really happened.  

Mr. Massie traces the downfall of Russian autocracy from Tsar Alexander III's failure to properly prepare his son for the throne through the tragic execution (and horrifying disposal) of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and five children.

There are many excerpts from letters, diaries, and missives from the time that paint a much different portrait of Nicholas II than history has often granted him.  He was a soft spoken, kind hearted, confrontation avoiding man born much too early for his time.  

Massie makes the assertion that he would have made a much better British monarch than he did a Russian autocrat and I found his evidence to be right on the money with that.  I wonder how Russia would be different if Rasputin had never come along or if Nicholas II were in charge of the country now?  

Imperial Russia is a delight to read about (the Faberge section alone makes the whole book worthwhile) but the fate of this family is definitely sobering.  The copy I read the 1967 edition so I plan to get the recent edition and see what has been added to the introduction and epilogue.

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

There is a small little art deco place in Manhattan called The Hopewell Hotel.  It has been owned and operated by the Martin family forEVER but they've recently fallen on some harder times so all the employees have been let go.  

Scarlett Martin, now turning fifteen, is to partake in the family tradition.  When the Martin kids turn 15, they get a suite in the hotel.  It's not what you are thinking.  They take on the CARE of a suite AND whoever happens to be staying there.  For poor Scarlett, that turns out to be the oh-so-kooky Mrs. Amberson.  

Over the course of this summer, Mrs. Amberson will turn Scarlett's life upside down while placing her square in the path of things that feel like destiny.  From forging a new relationship with her bratty little sister to possibly starting a romance with her brother's hunky costar,  Scarlett's life will never be the same.

People, this book has it all!  A historic hotel, a bipolar guest, Broadway intrigue, a new take on Hamlet, shoplifted tuna, a rich boyfriend and a poor one, exotic cosmetic products, and much, much more!  I had a great time with this, laughing uproariously in my car despite the truly horrendous narrator.  

Thursday, May 7, 2009

! ! ! this just in ! ! !

Patron: I'm looking for a book.  It's by Edgar Allan Poe.  It's a book of short stories.  They might be classified as horror stories.

Me: (inside) aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Me: (outside) 
Edgar Allan Poe is at 818.  We also have some of his short stories in the short story section, look in the P's for Poe. 

that is all.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

1 a.m.

wanna hear what it sounds like in my front yard when I get home at 1 a.m., click through!  

That right there is why I love (and put up with the occasional inconveniences of) living in a rural area far from the highways and byways.

Monday, May 4, 2009

gloomy Monday

It is so hard to get out of bed when it's all gloomy and overcast like it is today.  My property and person went unharmed despite the fact that the weatherman was showing all kinds of bow echoes, wall clouds, and other tornadic activity right over my house!  Binky was asleep on the back of my recliner when I got home so I knew we had truly weathered the storm in style.  

I did go ahead and drag myself out of bed when the alarm went off this morning at 6am and got in a good 45 minute session on the recumbent bike.  I doubled up on my productivity by reading two chapters of my book group book while I was at it!  

So far today I have had:
8 oz of V8
8 oz of soymilk
1 piece of HFCS-free toast
2 tbls of natural peanut butter

I brought lots of fruit, some 2% cheese, 1 oz of almonds, my very favorite Lime & Salt popcorn, some hot chocolate mix, and some baked sesame crackers for snacks if I get hungry during the day.  Oh yeah, and lots and lots of water!  I'd lost another 4 lbs this morning according to my home scale!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

sad news for me....

so, one of my petsitting clients from whom I haven't heard in about six months called today to let me know....

that she is being transferred and my boys are moving to the other side of the country!  I get to petsit for them one more time while she goes househunting.....

Saturday, May 2, 2009

the hair of many colors

...but only one at a time.  

I feel a bit like Strawberry Shortcake :-)  My stylist always flattens it down for some reason but it will be back to spiky on the morrow!  

grocery run

Add VideoI decided to go all nerdy on the grocery store so I got the recipes of what I wanted to cook, separated the ingredients out into their various elements, and put it all in a Google spreadsheet so I could work on it at home and at the library.  I went to the store last night armed with this spreadsheet and waged war on groceries.  I was so proud of my grocery cart that I walked around a bit more after I was done hoping people were looking in the fat girl's cart (yes, I actually took a picture of it in the middle of the store) and feeling ashamed of their own.  Sorry about that, but it's true.  

You should see my freezer!  I'm going to have to get some more storage containers!  I spent $152 and am estimating 91 meals from what I've cooked.  That may go up if I can get more than 8 servings out of one of the scheduled dishes.  That is roughly $1.67 per meal.  

So far, I have made and frozen:
taco soup - 15 servings
turkey lasagna - 12 servings
turkey meatloaf - 7 servings
chicken enchilada casserole - 12 servings

Ready-made things I purchased:
hotdogs (hebrew national, yum-meee!) - 4 servings
frozen turkey burgers - 6 servings
sliced deli turkey - 15 servings (I get it sliced thick, then cut those slices in half and freeze them.  They thaw super fast under the kitchen faucet so I don't have to wait if I want a yummy sandwich)

On the cooking agenda for tonight and tomorrow:
curried chicken and rice - estimated 12 servings
crockpot chicken & dumplings - estimated 8 servings

I already had some frozen green beans and broccoli so I also picked up some frozen corn, spinach, and cauliflower.  My fresh produce included apples, oranges, bananas, lettuce, carrots, onions, and garlic.

I do not apologize for volunteering you all to be my accountability partners :-)  If you made it this far down the post


Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Lia has just learned that her wayward best friend Cassie was found dead in a nearby hotel.  Also, Cassie had called her 33 times in the hours before she died, leaving tearful messages asking Lia to call her back, which Lia never did.  These calls, the messages Cassie left, and episodes from their long friendship haunt Lia throughout the story.  Cassie and Lia were blood sisters, making vows in the snow and under the light of the moon to be the skinniest. girls. ever.  They were wintergirls...frozen, distant, half alive, and, in their minds, S.T.R.O.N.G.  Cassie was bulimic, and died from it.  Lia is anorexic and making steady progress towards the same fate though she denies that until the end.  She has been hospitalized twice already, having gotten down to about 85 lbs.

Now home life is prison for her.  Constantly being monitored to see that she eats (she's very sneaky cautious about this) and weighed weekly to see that she stays in a healthy range (nothing a bit of tinkering with the scale, a limit of 400 calories per day, sewing quarters in your robe pockets, and 4 hour middle-of-the-night workouts can't handle).  No one understands, everyone wants to send her to the loony bin (Cassie doesn't exactly go away after she's dead), and the razorblades seem to be the only ones on her side.  

So, second somber title in a row.  REALLY somber.  However, I loved another book by this author, Speak, so I decided to give it a try.  I think she is a beautiful writer, one of my favorites, but there is no laughter here, no lightness, no smiles unless they are artificial or hard won.  There is healing, redemption, a light in the darkness.  This book is really worth the journey, as are all of her titles in my opinion.