Saturday, February 28, 2015

Weekend Links...and What I'm Reading This Week

  • Love is Dirty
    "It’s about giving up yourself and your resources to meet someone else’s need. Whether or not they are thankful."

And just for fun...


A sample peek of the week's reading material:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Our Snow Day {in three words}

math comes first

watching snow fall

pizza for lunch

and snow cream

some with chocolate

out to play

shoveling a path

loads of laundry

book club preparation

it's movie night

freshly popped corn

time to relax

How was your day {in three words}?
Ours was full.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Using an Unused Space

A few weeks ago I alluded to a house project that was in the works. It's kind of a long story.

When we moved into this house almost four years ago and started setting up and making it our own, we made a conscious decision to do things right the first time.  In other words, we didn't want to waste time and money on temporary solutions that we didn't love and would want to change later.

One of the first rooms we tweaked was our dining room.  We used a long-term-loan dining room hutch to store our school books and supplies and it served it's purpose well (large, sturdy, did I mention free?), but it was never precisely my style. We talked options including painting the hutch, but on a Sunday morning run last year I spotted another hutch for sale in a neighbor's yard. Brian talked them down from their asking price of $100 and brought it home for only $40!  The top section needed extensive cosmetic work, including removing glass doors so we decided to work with only the bottom half. 

Brian spent a week sanding and painting, and now this beauty resides in our dining room.  (I'm working on finding some artwork to hang on the once-hidden wall.)

{And where is the old hutch?  My sister took it home and made it her own.} 

The new piece has a major drawback. Eliminating the top cabinet left us less storage space.  An idea had been brewing for awhile and with Brian on his winter break, there was no time like the present.  There is a unused nook in our front entryway that was the ideal space for a large built-in bookshelf. 

We mentioned  our plans to my dad after dinner one Sunday and within a half hour he and Brian had removed the very large, very hazardous mirror with their bare hands (while the rest of us cringed at the sound of crackling, almost-shattering glass).

And that is why I have no official "before" photo.  I do have this one taken post-mirror.

Then came the work of tearing out the cabinet.

Ben was fascinated by the whole process, though the noise was a little bothersome, hence the ear muffs.
After the dirty work was complete, this is what was remained.

My dad volunteered to help build the new shelf. I provided lunch and advice, but otherwise, I was hands-off.

By the end of the day, the skeleton was complete. 

Then came the tedious work of paining-- the shelf and the walls, too,  which needed a freshen-up coat.

All the work was worth gaining this new much-used, much-needed space for our books, resources, and supplies.

Easy for me to say, huh?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

a Special Breakfast

One of our goals as parents of a larger-than-average family is to create memories for our kids in the everyday, to not let the days pass by in a blur simply because we're too busy to enjoy the little moments.  And because several of us in the family are bakers and all of us love to eat, our special memories often  center around meals, plus it's a time when we're all naturally together anyway.

Breakfast is a neglected meal. Sure, we eat breakfast, but we often grab something quick or the kids will fix something for themselves and each other.  I may cook a pot of oatmeal or occasionally scramble eggs but that's an exception, not the rule.  Last year on Valentine's Day, we planned a special breakfast and it was such a hit that we purposed to do it again this year.

The kids, especially the younger ones,  literally counted the days! Ben said he wanted to go to bed early the night before so breakfast would come sooner. 

We all pitched in.  Owen blended Healthy Orange Julius and Alaine gave each person a glass with a heart-patterned straw.

Maddie made mixed-up muffins,  a delicious hybrid of vanilla and chocolate. (You've got to have chocolate on Valentine's Day, even if it is before 9 am.)

I made a ham, potato, and frittata.

Ben and Gavin set the table and served the food.  (And lest you wonder where Brian fit into all of this: he was catching up on other housework while we scurried around the kitchen.)

The rest of the day was full (too many loads of laundry, a 10-mile run, visiting with out-of-town family), but the slow intentional start to our morning set the tone for the rest of our day and cemented memories for a lifetime.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Still Life

{This post contains affiliate links. I received a complimentary copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.}

I've done product review many times since I began my blog in the spring of 2008(!). I'd sworn off of it recently, though, because I find it difficult to talk about a product or a book objectively when I know there is a real person affected by my words. Do I sugarcoat it and recommend something I find mediocre or do I speak honestly and risk hurting feelings?

I routinely mention books on my Facebook page, but those are books I've picked up on my own and want to share with you, my fellow moms and readers.  Plus, I only need mention the good books.  The bad (or boring or weird or poorly written) ones, I just return to the library without a word.

This book, though?  With this book I was willing to agree to a review because I've read every other book the author has written and never read one I didn't like.

Still Lifeby Christa Parrish is highly character driven.  I've realized that when I'm reading a book, if characters are highly developed and the author gives them strong voices, I don't need a twisting plot to keep me interested.

Still Life flip-flops between the stories of two women: Katherine, a working mom of two teenagers, who has made decisions in the past that are leaving her wracked with guilt; and Ada, a young woman who grew up in a religious sect and escaped to marry a man she barely knew but who offered her Hope.

Though we know almost from the beginning what will ultimately weave these two women together, we watch their stories play out from a distance until eventually they meet. The plot (which includes a plane crash, a runaway, and an award-winning photographer) is interesting, but the subtlety (how each women changes internally to experience grace and growth) was more intriguing.

Admittedly, this was not my favorite of Parrish's books.  That would have to be Stones for Bread which I've mentioned over and over here on my blog and was the book that set me on my journey with sour dough bread

What books have you enjoyed during these cold days of winter?  Do you have a go-to author who always writes books you love?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Night Shift

One thing that makes our Sisters Book Challenge so difficult is reading books that are outside of my comfort zone.  Reading a book that I would not have chosen for myself takes a bit of mental gymnastics. I consider myself a lazy reader.  Though I read a lot, I read for pleasure so sometimes I avoid books that I feel might stretch me.  I rarely dislike a book once I dive in, but  I have to get past the idea that I'm not going to like something or that it will be too difficult or not in a genre I typically enjoy.

When Kati gave me this year's list, one book stood out to me because it was precisely something I would have chosen for myself!  It made this year's first pick a no-brainer.  The Night Shiftis Dr. Brian Goldman's recounting of one shift of his stint as a Canadian emergency room physician.  I'm a medical memoir junkie so I loved this book.  I loved reading how Dr. Goldman diagnosed patients, deciphered strange symptoms, and dealt with the cases that were emotionally trying.  (In the interest of disclosure, occasionally I detected a touch of arrogance in Dr. Goldman's tone which was off-putting and there was a moderate amount of bad language in patient quotes, though the copy I read had it blacked out.) 

I love this type of book so much that sometimes I think I missed my calling in the medical profession! 

Do you read medical books or watch medical TV shows?  I love the Call the Midwife television series, especially the first two seasons, and I've been known to rearrange my schedule in the summer so I don't miss Boston Med.

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