Monday, January 30, 2012

50 Books for the Year

I told Luke the other day that I wanted to read 50 books this year. I thought he would tell me that I was being ambitious, but no, he told me that it didn't seem like an over-ambitious task for me. Geez, thanks honey. Anyways, I have no rhyme or reason to the books that I am reading. I am just reading whatever comes my way.

I think I'm going to use this blog to keep track of how many books I'm up to. I'll give a verdict on what I thought about them on here as well.

Here are the books that I read this month.

Book Description on Amazon
"Beautiful Sorcha is the courageous young woman who risked all to save her family from a wicked curse and whose love shattered generations of hate and bridged two cultures.

It is from her sacrifice that Sorcha's brothers were brought home to their ancestral fortress Sevenwaters, and her life has known much joy.

But not all the brothers were able to fully escape the spell that transformed them into swans, and it is left to Sorcha's daughter Liadan to help fulfill the destiny of the Sevenwaters clan. Beloved child and dutiful daughter, Liadan embarks on a journey that shows her just how hard-won was the peace that she has known all her life.

Liadan will need all of her courage to help save her family, for there are dark forces and ancient powers conspiring to destroy this family's peace--and their world. And she will need all of her strength to stand up to those she loves best, for in the finding of her own true love, Liadan's course may doom them all . . . or be their salvation."

This is the second book of the Sevenwaters Trilogy. I can't believe that I liked it, but I did. It was a bit too mythical in parts, but overall very entertaining.

Book Description on Amazon
"Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha's joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all..."

This was the first book in the trilogy. Definitely entertaining.

Book Description on Amazon
"Thomas Buergenthal, now a Judge in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, tells his astonishing experiences as a young boy in his memoir A LUCKY CHILD. He arrived at Auschwitz at age 10 after surviving two ghettos and a labor camp. Separated first from his mother and then his father, Buergenthal managed by his wits and some remarkable strokes of luck to survive on his own. Almost two years after his liberation, Buergenthal was miraculously reunited with his mother and in 1951 arrived in the U.S. to start a new life.

Now dedicated to helping those subjected to tyranny throughout the world, Buergenthal writes his story with a simple clarity that highlights the stark details of unimaginable hardship. A LUCKY CHILD is a book that demands to be read by all."

This is probably one of the best Holocaust books that I've read (and that says a lot since I've read over 20). Very sad and interesting because of it being written from a child's perspective.

Book Description from Amazon
"Every expectant parent will tell you that they don't want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they'd been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made up of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of "luckier" parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it's all worth it because Willow is, well, funny as it seems, perfect. She's smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-year-old an unexpectedly deep source of wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.

Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte should have known earlier of Willow's illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life?

Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, Handle with Care brings us into the heart of a family bound by an incredible burden, a desperate will to keep their ties from breaking, and, ultimately, a powerful capacity for love. Written with the grace and wisdom she's become famous for, beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult offers us an unforgettable novel about the fragility of life and the lengths we will go to protect it."

This was a long book, but very thought provoking. I'm definitely going to pick up more from this author.

Book Description from Amazon
"California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.
Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.
Then she meets Michael Hosea, a man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything. Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation, until despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw.
But with her unexpected softening comes overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she no longer can deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael does…the One who will never let her go.
A powerful retelling of the story of Gomer and Hosea, Redeeming Love is a life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love."

This is a classic. Love it. I read it a few times and will probably read it more in the future.

Book Description from Amazon
"Rachel Balducci chronicles the exuberant, awesome life of boys through bizarre conversations overheard, unbelievable rules she's been forced to make, and the many episodes of boy behavior that continue to mystify mothers worldwide. From the care and feeding of her team, to travels out in public, to their wide-eyed adoration of Chuck Norris, this laugh-out-loud celebration joyfully explores the sweetly wild side of boyhood."

I was really excited to read this book, but ended up being disappointed by it. It was an easy ready and had a few good points, but overall not exciting.

Book Description from Amazon
"A novel full of grand passion and intensity, The Soldier's Wife asks "What would you do for your family?" "What should you do for a stranger?" and "What would you do for love?"

As World War II draws closer and closer to Guernsey, Vivienne de la Mare knows that there will be sacrifices to be made. Not just for herself, but for her two young daughters and for her mother-in-law, for whom she cares while her husband is away fighting. What she does not expect is that she will fall in love with one of the enigmatic German soldiers who take up residence in the house next door to her home. As their relationship intensifies, so do the pressures on Vivienne. Food and resources grow scant, and the restrictions placed upon the residents of the island grow with each passing week. Though Vivienne knows the perils of her love affair with Gunther, she believes that she can keep their relationship--and her family--safe. But when she becomes aware of the full brutality of the Occupation, she must decide if she is willing to risk her personal happiness for the life of a stranger."

This one was entertaining and interesting. Not my favorite ending, but I would still say it was good.

Book Description from Amazon
"A rapturous new novel of first love in a time of war-from the celebrated author of The Last Van Gogh.

In pre-war Prague, the dreams of two young lovers are shattered when they are separated by the Nazi invasion. Then, decades later, thousands of miles away in New York, there's an inescapable glance of recognition between two strangers. Providence is giving Lenka and Josef one more chance. From the glamorous ease of life in Prague before the Occupation, to the horrors of Nazi Europe, The Lost Wife explores the power of first love, the resilience of the human spirit- and the strength of memory."

I liked this book and may try to find more by this author.

8 books down and 42 to go.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Crazy Weekend - Big Boy Potties, Recipes, House Details and More!

House hunting, house selling, house buying all equal STRESS! Seriously, how do people do it? Actually, for the super rich people in the world it is easy to see. If you had lots of money and didn't have to worry about the cost of the old house vs. the cost of the new and all the add-on costs then I can see it. Well, I plan on being in this next house for quite some time! I don't want to have to do this for say about twenty years or so. Maybe I'll be super rich by then and it will be easy breezy. Ha. I doubt it, but a girl can dream.

Anyways, for those of you who don't know we had our house inspection. You can see the house here if you haven't seen it. Lots of little things came back on it plus two big things. The attic has quite a bit of condensation and the Radon pump is not working correctly. After two roofers and two contractors gave opinions on the attic part (which was the part we were the most worried about - I don't want to shell out $20k right away for a new roof) we think that we can have ventilation added and it will be fine. The boards are not bad, but they are wet. For the Radon portion, we need to have a Radon pump put in correctly. They have one in the house, but it is not up to standards.

As of today, we are waiting on the actual written reports from the two roofers who looked at it on Friday. We are also waiting on one from a company called Environmental Dynamics. They checked the attic for any mold or mildew since it did have condensation.

I was so stressed last week because I really want the house and I knew if it needed a whole new roof/attic/installation then we would more than likely have to walk away. I feel a bit better today, but we aren't out of the woods yet.

I do feel like we are still getting a great deal on the house. Everyone who has come to check it out for the "issues" has commented on what a great house it is for the money. Since we lost money on the Columbia house, it is important to us to make up the difference in buying a new one.

Anyways, enough about the house. Jordan, Leslie and Preston came over Saturday afternoon to have a play date and dinner. We had a great time. The kiddos got along really well and dinner was great.

I made a crock pot roast (generally, I do not like roasts but this one was amazing) and balsamic glazed carrots. Leslie brought olive oil red potatoes. Everything went together well and was awesome. I will definitely keep these recipes.

Balsamic Carrots - recipe found here
Roast 2 pounds of baby carrots in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes with some seasoning and a little olive oil. They were pulled out of the oven and drizzled with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of honey, and about 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Pop them back into the oven for about 5 more minutes.

Crock Pot Roast Beef - found here
3-5 pounds chuck roast
1 C water
1 C red wine
1 C soy sauce
1 C chopped onion
1 C chopped celery

Dump all ingredients in to a crock pot. Cook on low for 8 hours.

I don't have the recipe for the potatoes that Leslie brought, but I'm going to get it. I know she diced the red potatoes, added olive oil and some seasonings and the roasted in the oven for about 30 min. I'll have to get the exact recipe.

So, I know Greyson isn't ready to be potty trained. I know you aren't supposed to potty train if you plan on moving. We aren't potty training, but have been encouraging him to sit on the potty chair. Last week, Greyson went potty in the bathtub (just pee) and told me he went. A few days ago, he was behind the TV. I went to check on him and he, "No, Mommy. Go." I asked him if he was going potty and he said yes. So, he knows when he is going. He is getting closer to being ready to potty train. A couple of times over the last month, he has sat on the potty chair and then stood up and peed on the floor. Well, since we knew he knew what he was doing when he went pee in the bathtub, Luke followed a hunch and put the potty chair in the bathtub. He sat right on it and went potty. lol. We were so excited, but not ready to actually start potty training. Sunday night, before getting his pajamas on we decided to see if he wanted to sit on the potty chair (outside of the bathtub). Yep, he wanted to. He went right over there, sat down, and went potty again. We are both so proud. Kinda funny huh? Proud of him for using using the potty. We aren't going to try potty training for a while, but will still continue to encourage it if he continues to show an interest.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Baby Quilt : Part Two

My Grandma and I have been working on the quilt for quite some time and still haven't gotten it completely done. We have made some mistakes along the way, but I love how it is turning out. We only work on it about an hour each week, because that is just about how long Greyson takes his nap when I'm at their house.

All of the blocks are pieced, lined and sewn together. I have a few more strips to sew together and then it will be ready to take to the quilter. I'm thinking I'll have it ready to take by the first of Feb. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Indoor Fun

I've been trying to do something fun and creative with Greyson on the cold days when we don't go anywhere. He can get a bit crazy at home, so little activities go a long way.

I was pretty proud of myself on this one. He loves taking a bath and so I thought he would like giving his animals a bath. He loved it! I think this lasted about 45 minutes (which by toddler standards is amazing). One thing to note for the next time we do this is to not use Little People Animals. We had a bugger of a time getting all the water out of them.

I saw this activity on Pinterest. I thought he would love it since he loves fine motor things. It wasn't a hit, but it might have just been the day.

We just painted in these next ones. He got paint brushes for Christmas and he loves them. Definitely a good activity for the cold days.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2009

Serves 4

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lime juice
2 cups coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 white or yellow corn tortillas
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Hot sauce, optional

Place beans and cumin in small bowl; partially mash. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix 2 teaspoons olive oil and lime juice in medium bowl; add coleslaw, green onions, and cilantro and toss to coat. Season slaw to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add tortillas in single layer. Spoon 1/4 of bean mixture onto half of each tortilla; cook 1 minute. Fold tacos in half. Cook until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Fill tacos with feta and slaw.

I made these last Wednesday, and then again on Friday and Saturday. Lol. It was a combination of really liking them and also having nothing in the house. Definitely a keeper.

This picture is Greyson eating the whole wheat chocolate muffins that we made. The muffin recipe didn't make my cut, but he seemed to like it. =)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

24 Months

You weigh 26 pounds. I can't believe that you are finally out of the 5th percentile in weight. I have a chunky baby - 25th percentile!!!! Crazy! You are in the 50th percentile in both height and head circumference.

As you can tell by the weight growth, you love to eat. =) You still won't eat pickles, but most everything else is fair game.

You still sleep 12 hours consistently at night. You sleep about an hour and half during the day. I cherish your nap times.

You are wearing 24 month shirts. Pants are a bit harder. You need 18 months in the waist, but sometimes they are too short. I finally got you a new pair of jeans yesterday and they were 18 month Levis (Skinny version). The skinny pants fit you much better than regular fit. We went up a size in shoe. You scored this week by getting new shoes as well as jeans. We splurged a bit and got you Toms. They are so cute!

You wear a size 4 diaper during the day and a size 4 overnight diaper at night.

You love to do all kinds of things. You love to watch Barney, play with trains, drive the tractor/boat/car/etc., and "tackle" Daddy.

First time trying bubbles in the bath. You were scared of them at first. It took about five minutes for you to warm up to them, but you are in love with them now.

You were scared to death of Santa. No amount of talking to you when get you to sit on his lap. We had to finally take a family Santa picture (which turned out horrible). =)

Playing at Jumpin Joey's with Daddy

You loved coloring the Santa and then gluing his "beard" on.

Your cars had a race day the other day. We had spectators and everything. You loved it.