Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Greenest Island

Today I'm linking up with Jessica for What We're Reading Wednesday. I've had quite a lot of duds in the book department lately, mainly because our local library doesn't have a huge selection and I go in blind, randomly grabbing things that look interesting.  Like this book, for example. I couldn't get past the first few chapters before I skipped to the end, where all of my worst suspicions were confirmed. So what am I saying? The plot was both repulsive (to me) and at the same time predictable. I should have known from the title. However, Laura has given me hope, and I plan to request some of the books she recommends.

Anyway, I don't have much time to pound out a post today, so I had better get to the point. Last night I read Paul Theroux's The Greenest Island in the bathtub. It's that quick. It's the story of a very young couple that steals away to Puerto Rico to hide an unplanned pregnancy. The plot plays out over the course of a suffocatingly hot summer in the early 1960's.

It was my first contact with Theroux's writing, and I liked his style. It was clear, and he simply articulates thoughts that I have found my own mind dancing around. For example, at one point the young protagonist is forced to put aside his dream to write and take a job at a local hotel. Theroux writes,
The money was enough to live on, not enough to free him. So the salary trapped him more completely than the fear of poverty had. The job became central, the only important thing; and his ambitions became local: to take a publico rather than a bus, to eat in a good restaurant rather than La Gloria, to drink rum instead of beer (my emphasis).
I get the feeling that Theroux was writing from a place of experience - a quick look at his bio reveals that he had a child which he gave up for adoption when he was in college. But how many of us have also experienced this reality? The friction between dreams and needs, fear and security, comfort and freedom. So what's the solution? Theroux doesn't really get there in this short story, and I don't think it's an easy one. Maybe the most important thing is to be reminded that the friction exists.

Monday, April 14, 2014

12-13 April


So what's new? Things are definitely warming up here. Until it starts snowing tomorrow. But let's not dwell on that because this weekend was beautiful, perfect, really.  I even have a slight burn/tan on [only] the right side of my body from going to a baseball game on Saturday. My husband has taken to calling me "Braveheart," though Mel's character had more of a blue/white dichotomy going on. But I digress. We took all four kids to see the Bisons play, and met up with this lady and her family. And we took advantage of the $1 popcorn special. Full advantage.

We survived the first of the week's religious events - Hosanna Sunday (or Shanini). I say survived because Mass is always an ordeal for our young family of six. Add in a tradition of more formal dressing (for this day in particular), palms, candles decorated with live flowers, and a procession with children holding said candles, well, I would say survival isn't anything to be scoffed at. I have high hopes for the rest of Holy Week. 

The remainder of the day was spent putzing around the yard. Tidying a bit here and there. Making homemade brownies. These. So phenomenal.

What else? Did you know that there is going to be a blood moon tonight? I plan to get up and check it out. We shall see! 

Take me out to the popcorn. I mean the ballpark.

A trooper at the game, Edmond slept like this or in the stroller almost the whole time.
Do these even need a caption?
Girls and bubbles. Guess who has my skin tone?
Shredded red cabbage, cilantro, lime juice, salt... Yum!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Wear for Moms

Yesterday I received a really nice comment from a reader - you know who you are - about an old post entitled How Mama Got Her Groove Back (Part II). Long forgotten, I clicked back to see what I would think of something that I did at the very start of this blog. Actually, the advice was really good and practical (if I sound surprised, it's only because I have a tendency to look back and realize how much I didn't know). I almost reprinted it here, but you can just click on the link above if you want to read it.

That same kind reader asked if I had any updates I would make on this "mom dressing" list of sorts. Well, I think everything I said still stands. I still believe wrap dresses are universally flattering, and a blazer and a great bag can elevate the easiest of outfits. So what I thought I would do for today's post is give you a new, current visual of a practical, beautiful "momdrobe" for spring.

Spring Wear for Moms
V-Neck Tees / Blazer / Blouse / Chambray Top / Jeans / Ankle Pants / Skirt
Dress / Earrings / Watch / Sunglasses / Flats / Heels / Bag

All of these items can be mixed and matched, meaning a few pieces will yield a variety of outfits. And this wardrobe could take the busiest mom from day at home to grocery shopping to date night. Bonus? All of the items are also nursing and postpartum friendly!

Monday, April 7, 2014

5-6 April


Busy hands. It's about time their activity was transferred out of doors.

If only she had been wearing a helmet before she scraped the driveway with her face...

A moment.


Another weekend, come and gone, just like that! I don't mind the swiftly passing days, though, as each one brings us that much closer to true springtime weather. And though the yard is mud, mud, mud, and the temperatures are ungenerously hovering below what could be considered warm, Spring is definitely in the air. The hostas are starting to poke through the soft earth and the kids spent Sunday afternoon digging around and transplanting little periwinkle vines into pots. Because it's nearly impossible to kill periwinkle.

Saturday the kids went for their Easter haircuts. At two plus years of age, it was actually Veronica's first. For all of my amazing contributions to the familial gene pool, great hair was not one of them. I was bald and shockingly big headed as a newborn and for quite some time beyond that.  Anyway, she did really well until about five minutes in, when she proclaimed, with calm authority, "All done." When the stylist kept cutting, Veronica, straight faced and utterly serious repeated, "All done." The stylist quickly wrapped things up, and Veronica looked absolutely adorable until two hours later when she fell in the driveway and floor burned all the skin off of her upper lip and nose. Poor girl!

What else? After Mass on Sunday, husband tried out for man of the year by keeping the kids busy so I could nap as long as I wanted, making steaks for dinner, and picking up some special beers. For me he grabbed a couple bottles of Zywiec Porter. If you like dark, rich, strong beers you should definitely try it, or it's cousin, Okocim Porter

Drinking the Polish beer took me back seven years. I was in Krakow for a monthlong academic seminar, and one afternoon I was to give a presentation on part of Centesimus Annus to a group of fellow participants and a quite prestigious academic. At lunch I made the mistake of ordering a beer, the porter, which turned out to be so huge and so strong. And of course I drank the whole thing before running back into the classroom (I used to be either really cool or really stupid, I'm not sure which...) to give my presentation. It went ok. I think. I don't really remember that part very clearly. Public speaking usually causes me low level terror, though, and that time I wasn't even nervous... So, Polish porter for the win?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Midweek Munchies: Lemon Popcorn

At some point at the beginning of dating my now husband we had a conversation that went something like this:
Me: I really like popcorn. 
Husband: Me, too. How much do you like it? Like you could eat a whole bag? 
Me: Yeah... I really like it. I could probably eat a whole bag.  
Husband: I really like it, too. I can eat a whole bag. 
Me: Yeah.. I might be able to eat more than a whole bag. 
Husband: More than a bag? Like two bags? 
Me: Okay, I can eat two bags. 
Husband: Me, too.
Suffice it to say, we love popcorn. Thank goodness it is so healthy with all of its fiber and antioxidants and whatnot! I want to share with you one our favorite ways to eat it, which was taught to me by my good friend, Ana. If you are skeptical of this recipe, please promise me you will try it at least once. Promise?! You won't be disappointed.

Popcorn (microwaved or stove popped with a bit of olive oil)
Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed or from the bottle)
Seasoned Salt (we use a generic brand, just look for one that doesn't contain MSG)

Put one serving of popped corn into your bowl. Sprinkle 1 1/2 tsp of lemon juice over the bowl, making sure not to dump too much in any one area. Sprinkle with seasoned salt to taste. Enjoy!

One final note: I highly recommend purchasing a Whirly Pop if you make a lot of stovetop popcorn. It can't be beat! Also, I happen to know this great family that grows small batches of non-GMO corn just for popping. You can order their products online, and the gift sets make great, you guessed it, gifts! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

29-30 March

Every Saturday is different, and every Saturday is the same. Being awakened by small children. My husband saying, "Let me run out to the farmers market for a couple things. Let's have a big omelet for breakfast." And returning with strawberries, pears, asparagus, mushrooms, sweet peppers, rye bread, pastry hearts, cinnamon rolls, cookies as big as a face, locally made breakfast sausage, chorizo, feta. And then saying, absolutely seriously, "We can swing by the market again, I just wanted to get stuff for breakfast." I love this man.

The kids watching a show or two. Me having too much coffee. Scanning the weekend paper or finishing that book that needs to go back to the library. Showers, baths, errands in groups or all together. Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me in the car. A strong beer at four o'clock (trust me, its deserved if the errands were run en masse). An easy dinner. Children playing. Bedtime. Redbox movie time. Every Saturday is different, and every Saturday is the same.

D said, "Take a picture of this," then posed.
This book, eh, ok. I finished it but all the examining of women's dilemmas of "art versus family" and societal pressures was exhausting.
And I was left with so many unsettling questions. What is art? Why was Wiemar Germany so sexual?  Am I oppressed?
But I do like the light in this picture I took. Pat on back.
Sun like spring, snowing like winter.
"The long arm of justice."
Cooks Illustrated Skillet Penne with Sausage and Spinach (roasted red peppers substituted for sun dried tomatoes)...
Fast and delicious!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

These Pants: A Love Song

I love these pants

Why?  Let me count the ways... 

First, the cut. Slim, but not too slim. Waist not super low. Hemmed just above the ankle. All in all a fresh and current look.

Second, they are versatile; they go great with flats, heels, loafers, tall boots. This fact makes them a perfect winter-to-spring transition piece. And they can run the range of casual to dressed up.

Third, the fabric. It has a degree of stretch that is both flattering and comfortable. Machine washable wrinkle resistant, and quick drying. I want to take a trip to Europe just so I can pack these pants. Also,  I have washed my pair about six times and they look just like they did the day I purchased them (no small feat for an item from Old Navy). 

Fourth, they are inexpensive. At full price only $34.95, I paid a mere $25. Today I clicked on the website and a 30% off code popped up immediately.

Fifth, the variety. Currently I only have the black (black is sort of my thing), but they come in eleven colors and patterns. Eleven.

And before I bid you adieu, I want to say one quick thing about the sizing. It's messed up. And by that I mean really inconsistent. I was one size in a blue pair, and a different in the black. So if you check these out, try on several pairs, and don't let it ruin your day if you don't end up with the size you expected.

Linking up with The Moxie Wife's Five Favorites. Head on over for more favorites!