Friday, May 15, 2009

Book Lists

1. That look people get right before they start backing away from the crazy lady.
2. They laugh and roll their eyes and say "Oh, that is SO you." Then they back away slowly from the crazy lady.

The lists started out innocently enough as an Excel spreadsheet I used to keep track of which Nora Roberts books I had read and which I wanted to read. Nana always br
ought me NRs when she visited--the findings of trips to her favorite used book store or flea markets she stopped at with Grandaddy. I probably got my book addiction from her--she too is a big fan of paperbacks.

Eventually, I stopped limiting myself to just tracking NRs and adding books that were recommended to me by friends, family etc. It was basically titles and authors, not very organized.

Then I discovered Microsoft Access. This program was invented for obsessive list keepers like me. I now have one database that houses not only book lists but also movies and music. At last count, I had 948 books on my "Books to Read" list. This list is not only titles and authors. With Access, I can also track where I can find them:

1. Kennedy Library
2. M-H Library
3. Bookins (kind of an online used bookstore/trading club)
4. My own shelves

Once I read a book, it then gets transferred to the "Books Read" list. It gets rated:

1. Good
2. Ok
3. Bad
4. Didn't finish

Aside from satisfying my one OCD compulsion, this list does create an unintentional benefit. While many of these books come from reviews and summaries I've read, once they get put on the list, I rarely remember what each is about, with the few exceptions that stand out to me. What this does is allow me to pick a book off the library shelf and dive into it. I know it came off of my list (If I'm going to Kennedy that day, I can print off a query of ONLY Kennedy books, then walk around that horribly arranged library trying to find the books on the list), so it is one I wanted to read. I don't read the jacket summary, I just start reading. I don't always know if it is a love story or a mystery or a memoir. Because I have no expectations about the characters or the plot, I can get far more involved in the story.

For example, while I love NRs for easy reading between more difficult novels, every plot line is basically the same. The entire time I'm reading, I'm putting the characters into their expected scenes:  The Meet, The Rivalry, The Big Fight, The Sex, The Second Big Fight That Causes a Separation, The Engagement, The Big Happy Family With Pregnant Main Character. It's the same in every book.

In contrast, when I picked up The Sum of Our Days by Isabel Allandre, I had no idea what it was about (a memoir of the days, weeks, years after her daughter's death). I was not anticipating the lesbian affair, the "chapel" in the woods, the Chilean conflicts. I felt real emotions that could only be felt by completely immersing myself in the lives of the characters. That connection is the reason I read, and unfortunately, it is what many poeple lack. They read the same things ove rand over and never experiment with literature.

Now, I'm not saying that you should stop reading your favorite genre. Nana still brings me NRs every time I see her. I love them. But, I alternate with one of the other 943 (I deleted a few while writing this, I discovered last week that I do NOT like John Barth's style) books on my list. Make your own list. Don't read the jacket, just dive in. Try it!

Reading currently:  Body Surfing by Anita Shreve

(And yes, I know there is a weird thing going on with my font. No idea why the top is black and bold and the bottom is normal. Does not show up like that in editing, not sure how to get rid of it.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Short post tonight, just let you know that I'm going to be away from my computer next week. I may think up a post in the next few days if you're lucky, but Sunday J. and I are outta here! Headed to North Carolina to visit my cousin and her husband and new baby daughter (last year when we visited K. was VERY pregnant). Then staying a couple of nights in a cabin near Gatlinburg. I'm so excited about that.

This trip was actually supposed to be to New Orleans, my favorite city (that I've ever visted), for our honeymoon. We were going to stay at the Place D'Armes and eat at fancy restaurants. Sigh. We probably could have still gone but it would have meant sacrificing a big portion of the money we are saving for a house. Double sigh.

J. happened to get 2 extra days off of work than we were expecting, so we decided to splurge a little (not nearly as much as NOLA though) on a fancy cabin in the woods, as a second half to our minimoon in October (had a cabin in Brown County).

Anybody have any suggestions on where to eat in Gatlinburg? We've never been, so I'm not sure what is good and what is too touristy. Also, has anyone been to the winery just outside of town? 

PS...I just noticed how often I use parentheses for little side comments. I guess I blog the way I talk, I'm always interjecting explainations and such into my spoken thoughts. Hm.

Just finished:  Richard Murphy, Confessions of a Contractor--funny, easy read. Very entertaining, especially if you are in anyway connected to some sort of home trade (plumbing, electrical, carpentry)

Next up:  Anita Shreve, Body Surfing

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chirp, Chirp!

Guess what guys! I'm so done with school! That's right, I made it to graduation! Ok, enough with the exclamation points. Geez.

Still, I'm super excited that school is finally over. Everyone tells me that I'll miss college. Nope. I am hanging up my bookbag for good. I hated school, and I'm thrilled its over.

Some of you know that there has been a lot of turmoil going on at work. Long story short, it was not sure if I was going to get the promotion that I had counted on. But, I got it! I officially started my new position today (which really, isn't that different from what I was already doing, but should be less night time work), although my real schedule change won't happen until after my vacation next week.

So what am I going to do now that I don't have a full time school schedule? I'm going to bury myself into my books! Wait, that doesn't make much sense does it? If you know me at all, you know that there is nothing I love more in this world than fiction. Usually I read a book every day or two. Lately, though, it has taken me at least a month to finish one book!  That's ridiculous! I will never get through my reading list at that pace (although, even at a book a day it would still take forever. I have upwards of 900 books on an Access database). I'll try to keep you guys up to date on what I'm reading, not so sure if I'll do reviews or not.

I just finished The Shunning by Beverly Lewis, it was fantastic. Easy read but a lot of controversial issues, and it definitely made me grateful for the life I live.

Next up, Chimera by John Barth. To be honest, I have no idea what it's about. 

Thursday, May 07, 2009

An Open Letter to IM Spammers


Please stop instant messaging me every 5 minutes. While I am impressed at your ability to create a new screen name for every message you send, it makes it impossible to block your annoying messages. No,, I do not want to cum see your sexy naked pictures. I am trying to read my food blogs on Google Reader, and I'm Tweeting with my Bluffton friends. Every time I start to type, your IM box pops onto my screen and I end up Twittering half a message. Then, when I wake up in the morning to check my email, I find that you have sent me so many porn messages that my Digsby won't let me close it out.

So please xc,, please stop sending me these messages. I will never click that link. You are wasting your time, and mine.

Thank you,


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Thrifty Thursday

I have a slight obsession with food blogs. My Google Reader is always overflowing with new posts from the 100+ blogs I subscribe to (I was going to count them but I got to 50 and stopped). And those are just food blogs, it doesn't count personal blogs (like MckMama, who is the wonderful mom of Stellan who I've been tweeting about a lot lately) or news feeds and all sorts of other things I like to look at.

Anyway, I was reading a post from Amanda's Cookin' today and she has a weekly blog event called Thrifty Thursday. It got me thinking. We are all trying to save a little money here and there, and for me, grocery shopping is one of the biggest money suckers. I am addicted to fresh and natural ingredients and I have a hard time curbing my obsession with food (hm, sounds familiar?). One thing I never seem to have on hand is chicken stock, and it's in everything! But, I'll buy a can or carton and it will get lost in the back of my fridge. Something else that gets lost in my fridge are herbs. I am always buying parsley or cilantro for some new recipe, but I can never seem to use the whole bunch before it starts to turn. One of the other blogs I read (or maybe a few of them) suggested to put those herbs, along with scraps from other veggies, into a ziplock bag and store it in the freezer. Then, when you have a chicken carcass leftover for dinner, take an afternoon and make your own stock. Freeze it in ice cube trays then put in another baggie. That way, you always have stock on hand.

I keep meaning to do this but just never think about it. Well I was looking for an ingredient for dinner tonight, and saw that my parsley was starting to get a little brown. Aha! Time to freeze it! I also found 3 bags of green onions (apparently I keep buying them when I go to the store without realizing I have them) who's tops were kind of soggy. No problem, I cut off the bad parts and tossed those in the bag too. For dinner tonight we are having green beans, so the ends of those went into the bag as well.

A few other suggestions that I've seen were the tough ends from asparagus, carrot tops, the root end from an onion, etc etc etc. Really any veggie or herb that would otherwise end up in the trash. Just make sure you rescue them from the fridge before they mold or get slimy. But really use whatever leftover produce you have. You're going to strain everything out anyway, so the possibilities are endless! 

Now, I just need to get a rotisserie chicken one of these nights so that I can make the stock!

Sunday, May 03, 2009


The nice thing about having a blog is that I can write about the major things going on in my life. it gives people a window into my life, and it gives me a place to get my thoughts out. The downside is that it is very public. Anyone can read it, which is cool, but when you want to vent, it may not be the best option. I've started and deleted about 50 posts this weekend. I cannot tell you all what is going on, and it drives me crazy. But, I must remain professional and not run screaming around the internets like I would like to. Instead, I'm going to ask for your prayers and thoughts. I expected change when I graduated. But things are not moving in the direction I planned for and I am trying desperately to find the path I'm supposed to take. Hopefully I will be able to relax soon and get back to myself. But until then, the posts may be scarce so that I don't get myself into trouble.