12.24.13 What’s Making Me Happy

Merry Christmas everyone!  It has been so long since I posted (more than a month!) and I’ve done many things, so I’ll try to catch up with a whirlwind post of what’s making me happy:

  • I love firsts – even the first day of winter!  It means the days are getting longer and we are heading towards spring, instead of away from summer.  There was a year when I had a party for every first day of the season (or last day of the season, depending on where it landed in the week).  Maybe someday I’ll reprise, but for now know that I quietly celebrated and remember.
  • I’ve seen movies –

On Netflix DVDs:  

  • Frances Ha (a girl wants to pursue dancing career – and avoid growing up!), 
  • The Kings of Summer (boys build a home in the woods to avoid their families), 
  • Smashed (a married couple goes separate ways when one decides to be sober)
  • and at home right now is The Salt of Life (an Italian movie starring the man in Mid-August Lunch, the inspiration for Ferragosto!)
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Christmas DVD Traditions: 

  • Elf
  • Love, Actually
  • The Holiday
  • Family Stone
  • Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas

On Netflix Streaming:

And in the Theatre:

  • About Time (I loved this so!  I thought it had such a great message of how to live life… soooo good!  Bummed that it didn’t stay in the theatre long – I will be buying this!), 
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (So fun to see this with the girl who loves it best – Gracie.  We went on opening night, so the theatre was filled with other lovers of the series, and there were cheers and boos and sighs throughout.  A good movie!), 
  • Dallas  Buyers Club (Not a feel good movie at all, but outstanding performances, and a thought-provoking glimpse into the government/ pharmacology difficulties in obtaining medications.), 
  • Philomena (a great British film about a woman who goes in search of the son that was taken from her in the 50s while she was “banished” to a convent as an unwed mother – great story, great performances, great movie),  
  • Delivery Man (Vince Vaughn finds out his sperm-donating days have wielded him a passel!  It was not as funny as I like Vince to be, but it was a pretty good movie), 
  • Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (and so it does.  The story is original and the point they make about 24 hour media is pretty spot-on. Not great, but not a bad sequel.), and 
  • American Hustle (I love that “some of this really happened” was the tag line at the beginning of the movie.  Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence were amazing, and the story was fun to follow. )
I do indeed...

I do indeed…

As always during the holidays, there have been Musical Events:

  • Crossings At Carnegie – Becky Schlegel and the 48 High – a great, intimate setting, with fun music – a little country, a little bluegrass!  
  • Messiah “Sing In” – Always a treat to go with Beth!  This year Vicki went as well!  The music seemed harder to sing, but it was a great night.  
  • Take Note! and Winona Brass Band – our concert has been a tradition since 2006 – isn’t that amazing?  It always goes by so fast, but is a fun night at the beginning of the holiday season! 
  • Christmas program at church – Even though it was only 20 minutes long between church services, I was glad to get to the program!  Good smiles, good songs… 
  • Take Note! party – Mom and Dad opened their house for the Christmas party for the choir.  Everyone brought delicious food, we had good weather, good laughs, watched our concert, and had a relaxing afternoon.
  • Festival of Lessons and Carols at the Chapel at St. Mary’s – Gracie has been singing with her choir at this concert for a few years.  It’s a nice time to reflect on the season, listen to beautiful choral music, handbell choirs, and to sing favorite hymns.
  • Dan Chouinard and Peter Ostroushko – Such a great evening of singing and music!  The ability of these two men is awe inspiring, and they make it look effortless.  Such a great Christmas tradition I hope I will do every year!
Next year I may make a Christmas tree out of books

Next year I may make a Christmas tree out of books

I’ve read some books: 

  • Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding – It’s nice to hear Bridget’s voice again, although she really should grow up, right? It’s a fun read with Bridget antics and a few precious moments.  
  • Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross – Read this for the book club in the ED.  It’s amazing how I never want to read historical fiction and then enjoy it a lot.  This takes place in the 800s and it’s fun to read about their education, religion and beliefs.  Good discussion!  
  • Perfect by Autumn Jordan – Very short Christmas story!  Trying to “pad” my book numbers for 2013!  
  • Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine – on audio – a story about a young man being raised by his older sister.  A good story, which probably would have been better if I had a more consistent listening schedule.  🙂  
  •  Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling – Currently listening to this on audio – I love Mindy and can’t wait to listen further. 
  • Wishin’ & Hopin’ by Wally Lamb – another short Christmas story – hoping to maybe make my goal of 32 books in 2013!  
  • Next on my list is Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – hear it’s a great YA book!  

football_santa

And then I’ve made it to a few sporting events – 

  • Wrestling – I spent an afternoon watching cousin Trevor wrestle – well, I waited all afternoon to watch Trevor wrestle once, as he had a win by forfeit in his second match of the day and I missed his first one! 🙂  He wrestled hard and I hope to make a few more meets this winter.  
  • Basketball – Trajan is playing Junior Varsity for Mayo, and I’ve made a few of his games so far, hoping for more!  Gracie and Rees will also be playing, so hope I can get to some of those, as well!  

Phew!  I wonder how many will make it to the end of this long list!  I’m hoping to blog again before the end of 2013 so let’s see if that happens!  I know that the days ahead are filled – with work, with fun events, and with family time.  

Christmas

 

I hope that your Christmas holidays are as blessed and a blessing to you!  

Book: Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

Nickel and Dimed

Nickel and Dimed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s really so much to think about and discuss in this book.  We chose to read this for group supervision at work and I am sad that I will miss the discussion.  In the book, Ms. Ehrenreich touches on so many things without hitting you over the head with any of them.

The author faced housing, nutrition, and safety concerns, language and communication differences, and the difficulty and run-around with obtaining services or applying for jobs.  She went into the experiment acknowledging that she would not suffer; she refused to go hungry or be homeless during the experiment.   She had a debit card at the ready and a reserve of cash she started with.  She also acknowledges the privilege she comes from and was often amazed that her employers did not recognize it in her.

Because of the book, I reviewed my Ruby Payne book “A Framework to Understand Poverty,” found a website with a “game” about living at the poverty level (http://playspent.org/) and tuned into some Ted Talks about “The Quest to End Poverty.”  It’s always good when a book leads you down a path to explore and learn more.

Have you read this book?  What parts of it will you remember?

my Goodreads review:

Very engaging writing and interesting subject. I was worried that this book would be “dated,” since it was published in 2001 with her social experiment taking place in 1999/2000. But the information is still relevant, maybe even more so, as we are no longer in those same economic times.

Things I will remember:

  • The difficulty in finding housing, especially housing near the job. Especially in Minneapolis. Living in substandard hotels/motels and paying by the week would be frustrating. Common sense would say that living near where you work would be most cost effective, but where the jobs are tends to have more expensive housing costs. So then there is dependence on your own vehicle or public transportation.
  • The hard, backbreaking work without break. Or if not backbreaking, the monotonous work while standing on your feet.
  • The personality tests required by most minimum wage jobs she applied for. And the rule about not talking to each other while working at Walmart.
  • The second to last paragraph of the book:

    “When someone works for less pay than she can live on – when, for example, she goes hungry so that you can eat more cheaply and conveniently – then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life. The “working poor,” as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else. …”

    That was a powerful paragraph for me.

I am glad I read this book – it was easy and light with an impactful message.

Written at the end of a 12-hour overnight shift… hopefully it is coherent and sensical! 

“Like a Superbowl for Book Lovers!”

A few months ago I had the idea that I wanted to get together the various random people I know that love to talk about books and reading.  Not to talk about one book in particular, but to talk about why we became people who love to read and discuss books!  I thought I would look for some book-related food and drink, book and reading related games, and we would have a grand ol’ time.

Well.  A grand ol’ time was had!  Oh my.  I’m still on a little high.

Long ago I decided that I was not going to let the pressure of hosting a perfect party keep me from hosting parties,.  It makes for a more relaxed evening to know that you don’t have to be a Martha in the kitchen to have a successful party.  I ended up stocking up on frozen Trader Joe’s appetizers, buying a lot of wine and some fruit, and putting out cheese and crackers.  I picked a small Italian theme, because I had a book to giveaway, and that book was set in Italy.  I looked through the “Tequila Mockingbird” cocktail book Iclick the title for the blog about how lovely and perfect this book is!) for inspiration and decided to make the “Gone with the Wine” sangria (red wine, peach schnapps, peaches and oranges) and get the fixings for “Scarlett O’Hara’s” (Southern Comfort and cranberry juice) as well.  My house is usually relatively clean, so I simply dusted and put away the dishes, prepared the punch, decorated with books, and took a nap.  That’s my kind of prep.

The guests arrived promptly and enjoyed the “Gone with the Wine,” and we promptly began discussing the following questions while devouring yummy tapas-like appetizers:

  • What was the first book you remember reading/being read?
  • What is your favorite book of all time?
  • Which book has left the most lasting impression on you?
  • Which book have you read most frequently?
  • What books are on your bedside table at the moment?
  • Name one book/author that you really can’t stand?
  • What type of books do you like reading most?
  • If you were given $30 to spend on a book today, what book would you buy?
  • Where’s your favorite place to read?
  • Which character in a book do you think is most like you?
  • Which character in a book would you most like to be?
  • What book do you plan to read next?
  • Which literary character would you most like to have a ‘significant relationship’ with?

These discussion questions took a good few hours and we never digressed to talking about family or work or anything but books books books!

Then we played Bookish Pictionary with a white board and bestseller book titles!  It was fast-paced and fun – even to those who freaked out about having to draw!

There were a few online games we played via my iPad – like this one, which is matching the people who marry or almost marry in famous books, this one which is first lines of famous novels, and this one, which was hilarious – top 80 words found in Harlequin romance novel titles!  Who knew that Surgeon would be way up there???

Everyone brought a small exchange gift – a jar of Book Worms, favorite classic novels or a favorite book, Well Red wine from Trader Joe’s… creative and fun!

And then everyone got to take home a book from a box of books that I won from TLC Book Tours!  Yay books!

I cannot wait to start planning the next Superbowl for Book Lovers or Bookish Affair or whatever it becomes dubbed!  I will be on the lookout for more book giveaways, bookish trinkets for exchange, and bookish games and recipes!

Do you have any ideas for future bookish gatherings?

Book Club Read – “The Night Circus”

Reading at the end of the dock

Reading at the end of the dock

I always complain that it’s hard to get a lot of reading done at the end of the dock, because it’s difficult to read with your eyes closed with all the sun worshiping that goes on!  (NOT really something to complain about!)
It’s just  so much easier to chat with those around you, than to make the effort to read in the sunlight.

But I did dive into this book over the 4th of July holiday and finished it right before I walked out the door for book club today!

We had SO much fun at book club (as usual), but tonight I had to share a few pics from the day.  Some of the book clubbers have husbands who like to tease that we are a drinking club with a book problem, but I said today that we really don’t live up to that reputation!  We do love a good theme and always bring fun food, so maybe we are a food club with a book problem!

book club

Book Club Treats

Jill set the theme with the black and red and white decor.
The popcorn and chocolate sweets added to the ambiance, as did the cocktails!
(I didn’t say we didn’t have drinks at book club!  The rhubarb slush was delicious!)

book club food

The spread was delicious – as usual!

We had delicious grilled hotdogs, fresh fruit, chips and dip, cheese and crackers, macaroni and cheese corn (yummy!) and a terrific taco salad.

Chocolate mice dessert book club

Chocolate Mice (ala The Night Circus)

And for dessert these delicious and decorative chocolate mice!  How fun is that?  Of course it’s a treat you can pick up at Le Cirque des Rêves, but also can be homemade in your very own kitchen!  And they were delicious!

And every few years we like to take a photo.  It’s been a few, and one of our gals was missing, but we had a blast taking these photos.  Jill’s camera will take 7 shots in a row, and that is great fun.  We had different poses for each shot, each one sillier than the next.  But mine was just a simple 10 second delay… we look good!

book club picture Night Circus reveours

Book Club July 2013

We also discussed the book, because we never have book club without discussing the book, and although some didn’t like it as much as others, there was great discussion.  We certainly didn’t pay attention to the Shakespearean references, but maybe we will on a re-read!

Good fun!

What will I read next???  Whatever it is, I look forward to it!