Saturday, February 28, 2009

February's Reading List

So this is what I have been reading this month. I wish I could read as fast as I used to. Maybe I'm spending too much time on the computer... or hanging out with Mario and Luigi.

Innocent Traitor - Alison Weir
(4 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes)
  • A great account of Lady Jane Grey, the British monarch with the shortest reign (9 days). It follows her life as a pawn in the very corrupt courts of Henry the VIII and Edward the VI. Told in the first person from many different characters' perspectives, it offers a glimpse into the life of a woman living in Tudor England. Even though I knew what would happen at the end, I found myself cheering as Jane stood up to her father's manipulations and voiced her faith and strength.
Princess Diaries Collection (Books 1, 2, & 3) - Meg Cabot (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes)
  • Many of you have probably seen the Disney movie version of this book, but I have to say it was a really fun read. Yes, it's written for young teen girls... but so was Twilight and I will admit to enjoying those as well. Things that surprised me about this book: it takes place in New York (not San Francisco, like in the movie), Mia's dad isn't dead (he is in the movie), and I just can't see Grandmere falling for Lars, Mia's bodyguard (like in the movie). Meg Cabot writes a lot of chick-lit for adults, and I have enjoyed those as well, but there is a sense of fun in the Mia stories that is refreshing. PS- I have recently heard that the books lose their originality the further you go in the series. I may give the next couple a shot.
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes)
  • Ok, so Oprah loved this book. That was reason enough for me to never ever read it. But then, a few years ago I saw the trailer for the movie and I was enraptured. The story is so surreal that it could almost be true. A young girl taken from her home, sold into servitude, is given the opportunity to become something amazing. A chance encounter that changes a life, romance, unrequited love, doing what one must in order to survive... whew... I could go on forever. I just love this book! I guess that's why it's on my annual re-read list.
A Harlequin novel that will remain unnamed - (1 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes)
  • Ok, I will admit I occasionally read trash. This book fit the bill and provided me with a couple of hours of escapism. 'Nuff said.
Sweetness at the Bottom Of the Pie - Alan Bradley (5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes)
  • Amazing! OMG, I was given an advance copy of this book, just prior to it's release and I was blown away. Imagine a murder mystery worthy of Miss Marple or Hurcule Poirot, with an 11 year old girl as the main character. It was absolutely fabulous! Everyone who appreciates mysteries, dark British humour, and philatelists will adore this book. I can't wait for the next in the series. And the best part... this author is from my home town! How cool is that!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Me and My Black Thumb

Do any of you recall that movie from 2000 called "28 Days"? This is not to be confused with "28 Days Later", that scary post-apocalyptic zombie movie. You remember, 28 Days was the one with Sandra Bullock as a woman who goes into rehab after trashing her sister's wedding.

Toward the end of the movie, someone in her support group asks their counselor when they can star dating again after rehab. The counselor tells them to go out and buy a plant. If they can keep the plant alive for 6 months (or some other random amount of time), then they can go out and get a dog. When they have had the dog for a year, then they can think about getting involved in a relationship again.

If I had that restriction on my life I would be in some big-time trouble. I can't keep plants alive for love or money. Let me give you some history...

My bio-mom's house was always a veritable jungle. African violets, split-leaf palm, devil's ivy that spread all around the kitchen, bamboo, cacti, asparagus ferns, spider plants... you name it, she could grow it. Don't even get me started on her garden.

When I was in college, heaven knows I tried to live up to her example. I had a jade plant, an amaryllis, an english ivy, and an angel-wing leaf begonia. Oh yeah, and there were those mini-roses too. Not one of them lasted a full semester.

After college, I figured I would try again. I had more time, I would remember to water them. I would use the fertilizer. I would nurture them, talk to them. I would make them grow. More mini-roses, cuttings from my mom's devil's ivy, spider plants, even tulips... all wilted and faded under my care.

A few years later I gave up on houseplants... I had decided they just weren't my thing. Instead I would start an herb garden. Lavender, chives, basil, parsley, rosemary... you name it, I planted it. The only one to survive was the lavender, because it was within reach of the automatic sprinkler system. The year after the herb garden I tried real vegetables... tomatoes, pumpkins, zucchini. They all did incredibly well, until they were to be transferred outside. Again, dried up stalks, withered leaves, nothing to show for it except a new round of jokes from my family.

When my beloved and I were married, our church threw us a wedding shower. It was very nice. Lots of nice gifts, a collection of great recipes, and 14 houseplants. *sigh*

Three didn't even make it home. They tipped over in the car and never recovered. Soon I was cleaning up fallen leaves, watering and cursing the mess of leaking pots and dumped fertilizer. I used that stuff they claim is miraculous. The only miracle was that I didn't tear my hair out from dealing with the shame and guilt of letting all these beautiful plants die. The last one made it a whole year and a half, until just after we moved into our new home.

If I can't keep a simple spider plant alive, what kind of mother will I be? (I'm 99.9% kidding)

Anyway, the reason I post this is because I'm trying again. I bought a few little herb plants, and while the basil has died, and the oregano is not doing so hot, my parsley seems to be thriving! It's amazing. Every day that it's not showing signs of wilting I do a little happy dance in my living room. Maybe there is hope for my black thumb after all.

Silly I know, but hey... I bet I made you grin. ;)

Thursday, February 26, 2009


  1. A stone marker set up on a roadside to indicate the distance in miles from a given point.
  2. An important event, as in a person's career, the history of a nation, or the advancement of knowledge in a field; a turning point.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Crud

It's finally landed on me. The gunk that has been making the rounds through my staff and co-workers. Pounding head, aching sinuses, and a very upset stomach tossed in for good measure. I felt like a shmuck calling in sick today, but I could barely stay upright long enough for my shower. I knew it would be ridiculous to think that I could accomplish anything at work. In one of my favourite series of novels the characters refer to it as 'the crud'.

On a completely different note, American Idol is driving me nuts. They are all grating on me tonight. Maybe it's the headache, but really they need to stop.

Maybe this crud explains my foul mood the last couple of days.


Maybe I'm just a grouch.

PS - It's STILL snowing!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Beware... I'm Cranky!

Today's List of Pet-Peeves
  • Winter! (really... does it have to keep snowing???)
  • The neighbour who always slams his door
  • my bangs
  • the draft in my bedroom
  • the scale
  • when I can't leave a comment on a blog because the word verification doesn't like me
  • Nicole Ritchie (yeah, I'm jealous)
  • knowing when I get to work today, I'm going to be short staffed AGAIN!
  • have I mentioned winter???
Ok... I'm going to try to quit pouting now.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Listen to your mother...

My mom always says, "Don't pray for patience... the good Lord might just give it to you".

Oh, how I'm feeling those words today. I'm DPO 6, and have at least another week before I can call the OB to book the HSG. This month has felt like a year. I just want to be moving forward! This anxiety is starting to wear on me.


I know that a week goes by fast... I KNOW that! But it seems like it's already been forever.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'm Feeling Inspired...

I think I will bake a loaf of brioche in the morning. Anyone coming over for brunch?


Fool's Hope

Take a look over to the right. It's ok, really... I want you to take a look at those two quotes over there. They are probably two of the most powerful quotes that I have ever read, and they have had an incredible impact on my life. I thought I would take a moment or two and share why.

The first quote, from Return of the King, is something that has resonated in my soul since the first time I read it many years ago. Yes, I am one of those people... the people who could easily lapse into daydreams of living in Middle Earth. Everyone who reads Tolkien's epic tale tends to identify with one race of Middle Earth beings. One of my very good friends is certain that she has an inner elf. The dwarves, the men of the west, the wizards, the ents, and even little twisted Gollum, all have their followers.

As for me... of course I identify with the hobbits of the Shire. If you are as yet unfamiliar with my distant cousins (three or four times removed, of course), I defer to the prologue of Fellowship of the Ring and Master Tolkien's very thorough description. For those who just need a refresher, let me remind you that hobbits are very mellow creatures who love peace and quiet, and 'good-tilled earth'. They derive great pleasure out of the simple things in life like good books, good food and wine, and good friends. They are short of stature, rotund, and have large hairy feet. Most abhor adventure and never stray much further than the end of their own lane. Sound like anyone you know? ;) (minus the hairy feet... I think it's a recessive gene)

At the point in the story where you would encounter the quote to the right you would find four young hobbits on a quest to do that which would seem impossible, to destroy the source of all evil. Two are making their way closer to the center of Mordor, the land of darkness and despair. One is preparing to ride into battle with the men of the Rohirim. And the last, Pippin, is watching the dark armies mass outside the gates of Minas Tirith, the great white city. It is that moment when all seems lost, when it would take a miracle for any of them to survive let alone succeed, that Pippin seeks comfort from his wise friend Gandalf.

But instead of providing reassurance that all will be well, Gandalf lets Pippin know that not all things end well in our world. To be cliche, bad things happen to good people. We can rail against it, hang onto our dreams of peace, be dragged from our hobbit-holes kicking and screaming, but we will all have to face the battle someday.

The second quote, from 1 Corinthians, is something I didn't come across until I was in college. Somehow I had always skimmed past it.

"For the message of the cross is foolishness..."

Sometimes we are so deep in our personal darkness, so caught up in worrying about the approaching armies of monsters, that when we are offered a ray hope we laugh at it. It's a fool's hope... only a complete idiot would believe that there is any way out of this mess.

Only a fool would believe that a creature as humble as a hobbit could destroy the ring of power. Only a fool would believe that a man who died on a cross two thousand years ago can save us from death.

Some of you, humble readers, if you have read this far, are cringing now. You weren't prepared for a mini-sermon. If it has come across that way, I apologize. It is not my place to preach, only to share where my hope comes from in the midst of the battles I face.

This fool will continue to hope...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My First ICLW

Hi and Welcome!

While there aren't many posts here yet, I have come to enjoy blogging and am excited to be reading what everyone else is up to.

About me:
Age: 34 (when did that happen?)
Hubby: 37, often referred to as 'Beloved' or 'Darling One'
Whereabouts: in a small winterbound city on the flatland, within sight (on a really good day) of my beloved Rocky Mountains, in my favourite country.
My History: I've lived in three countries, three provinces and three states (I've moved 58 or 59 times). I met my Beloved on a very well-known online matchmaking website. We were matched on Valentines day, 2006, and were married in April 2007. My family history is strange and twisted (but then, who's isn't?), and in my past I have had 6 parents.
TTC: We have been ttc (trying to conceive for those of my friends who aren't obsessed with procreation) since January 2008. We have had two miscarriages, both diagnosed as blighted ovum. We are now waiting for testing to begin.
Oddities: I am terrified of birds. My darling one hates watermelon. My great-grandmother had 21 children.

Read... enjoy... be bored... whatever... :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Whatever Happened To Miss Manners?

I have been growing more and more cynical about our society over recent years. Maybe I'm hitting that age where everything isn't as good as it was when I was a kid. Maybe I'm destined to be a grouchy old bat who yells at little kids (please God, I hope not!). Maybe my expectations are just too high. Maybe I've just worked in retail too long.

What is wrong with people? Where have all their manners gone?

No one says thank you. No one says excuse me. No one picks up after themselves.

Let me give you an example of how far our society has fallen. A few nights ago, Valentine's Day actually, my Beloved and I went to a movie. I knew that the main theater in our small city has notoriously slow lines for tickets and concessions, so I planned accordingly. We arrived early and my Darling One got in the concession line while I stood in the ticket holders line outside the theater. While in line people pushed past me to get to the ladies room without so much as an 'excuse me' or a 'sorry'.

Then there were the 'crowders'. You know who they are. The people who have no understanding of personal space and persist in bumping you with their elbows or purse or whatever while they are in line behind you. No matter how many half-steps forward you take to move away from them, they just take it as a cue to move even closer.

And once I was finally in the theater, things went from bad to worse. First there was the man behind us who was loudly shoveling popcorn into his mouth... and chewing with his mouth open. *ICK* There were the two teenage girls sitting two rows in front of us texting each other throughout the entire movie. Then we were serenaded by a chorus of burps and belches and other disgusting chewing sounds from every side. And finally, there was the I-need-to-pee-every-ten-minutes-because-I-just-drank-a-large-Coke girl in our row.

People, the movie theater is not your living room! If you are that free with your bodily functions in the privacy of your own home, that's one thing. But please, don't subject the rest of us to it!

Another area that continues to shock me is people's behavior in a retail environment. I know that I am jaded in this area but sometimes people can still amaze me in their lack of manners. People interupt conversations, they snap their fingers at me when they want assistance, they pull product off the shelf and leave it on the floor. They get grumpy at me when I ask that they return to the coffee shop in our store to get a lid for their drink (Hello... our product is paper... one drop of your venti half-caff mocha with extra caramel drizzle and a book is ruined!). Then there are the ones refuse to get a lid, spill their coffee, and don't bother to clean it up or even ask for help in cleaning it up. People use language that twenty years ago would have had them banned from any store, and they verbally abuse my staff (no, a 16 year old cashier is not resposible for the difference in Canadian and American pricing and calling her a b*tch isn't going to get you anywhere except escorted out of my store).

And my personal favorite... parents who bring their children into our store, plunk them down in front of the toy table in our kids department, and then wander off to go look for something on the other side of the store. We are not babysitters! Heaven help us if something happens to one of these little abandoned angels while mommy is off perusing Oprah's latest pick.

Ok, so this post has wandered a bit. Basically, it comes down to three things...

Say Please!

Say Thank you!

Live the Golden Rule!

(And for those who have forgotten... Do unto others as you would have done unto you!)

Ok, rant over... for now.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oh My Aching Feet... or You-Know-You've-Had-Too-Much-Vacation-When..

Ok... first day back at work in ten days.

It was a good day. Spent an hour getting caught up on staffing changes, events missed, and new computer protocols. My desk was a mess (I left it tidy and clear), but that's to be expected. Got to check back in with my staff and it was fun hearing everything I had missed.

It was a rough day. I'm out of shape... ok, that's the understatement of the year, but it's true. I can tell that I have spent too much time lazing around in recent weeks. At first I was trying to 'take it easy' and not do anything overly strenuous that might hurt the baby. Let me tell you, unless you are told by your doctor to sit on your butt, don't! (My great-grandmother had 21 kids and never spent a day resting because she was pregnant) Then, I allowed myself to wallow. Sitting on the couch, up to my eyes in grief, staying active was the last thing on my mind. And now I have just spent a week playing too many video games! Argh!

I felt it all today when I spent several hours on my feet, moving product from this display to that display, trying to make room for the six skids of product we are scheduled to receive in addition to our usual shipments before the weekend. I have until Sunday to get my body back into work mode... we have a major merchandising change-over and I have to be able to pull my own (considerable) weight.

I am aching. My feet, my back, my shoulders... my whole body hurts. But at the same time, it feels good to actually be feeling a bit more like me. I know that I've been in a daze since the beginning of December. Maybe the fog is lifting... maybe.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cooking As Therapy... or the Lament of the Dusty House

Ok... So while I'm not as strong as I thought I was, I think things are slowly moving in the right direction.

Of course there are always speedbumps on the road to healing... and we have had our fair share. A week and a half ago, my sister's father-in-law passed away. While I didn't know the man well, I know that my brother-in-law would be devastated and wanted to do as much as I could for them, even from a distance. This amounted to a lot of listening as my sister ranted about her husband's screwy family and the craziness that ensued their patriarch's passing. I will save you the drama, but suffice it to say their family has Jerry Springer on speed-dial.

Then, just a few days ago, my Darling One's great aunt passed away. This was not unexpected. She was 91 and had been in slowly declining health for the last few years. But nonetheless, she was a rock in the family and her death has hit us all. Auntie K was the closest thing my Beloved has had to a grandmother, and she was a second mother to my mother-in-law (she was actually the mid-wife at my MIL's birth). Today there was a beautiful service to commemorate her life.

Now, any of you who know my mom know that when she is upset she cleans. So does my sister. I imagine my sister's house is spotless right now with all the stress she's been under. To my chagrin, I don't clean when I'm stressed... instead I cook.

I have been blessed to have the last week off work. I had great grandiose plans for what I was going to do with my week off. I was going to clean out the storage room (I swear it's getting done tomorrow morning!), reorganize the linen closet, and tackle the spare bedroom that has never really been dealt with since we moved in. I was going to do some reading (have only made it halfway through a reread of Memoirs of a Geisha) and writing (story ideas don't come until the end of my vacation time... I should know that by now). And in general I was just going to get my life back to normal.

What did I do instead? Watched waaaaaaaay too much daytime tv, spent too much time with Mario and his crazy brother Luigi trying to defeat Bowser and rescue Princess Peach, and listening to the same CD over and over while playing Mahjongg.

BUT... I did have a productive day in the middle of the week. Instead of dusting and vaccuuming like I had planned, I suddenly felt inspired to cook. I mean really cook. I love cooking for my loved ones. I love trying new recipes. I love experimenting (as this evening's dinner can prove, my experiments don't always work) and I love feeding people.

So, in one day I am proud to say that I made:
  • 1 dozen Crusty French Rolls
  • a pot of Beef Stew
  • a ginormous pot of Italian Sausage & Tortellini Soup (zucchini, carrots, onions, garlic, tomatoes, etc)
  • a medium pot of Beef Barley Soup
  • a loaf of Brioche (which turned out amazing for a first try)
And I just have one word... YUM! Considering the veritable multitude of things that could have gone wrong with making that many different recipes at once, I am proud to say that they all turned out and turned out well. I now have two weeks worth of homemade soup in my freezer and a husband who is ecstatic that I have promised not to order pizza again in the next month.

I found something in the process of chopping veggies and separating eggs. I found a moment of contentment. I had some peace, in the midst of the chaos I created in the kitchen. I felt like me again. I may never be a mom, but damn it I can cook and I can be proud of that.

And that humble readers is the point of this rambling story. Come for dinner any time. I'll hook you up with some pretty good food, if I do say so myself.

(Oh, and Mom, if you are reading this... I did the dusting and vaccuuming after I cleaned up the kitchen)