Monday, March 30, 2009


Interesting statistics about reading in America, circa 2003 study:

1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57 percent of new books are not read to completion.
70 percent of books published do not earn back their advance.
70 percent of the books published do not make a profit.

I am glad there is a big market for the romance, crime, detective and chick lit books so all the other books can still be published. I just went a bit crazy at Borders when I went to pick up my latest book club selection - The Shadow of the Wind. I went by the "buy one get one free" table when I saw Elegance of the Hedgehog which I have wanted to read, so I picked up The Poe Shadow because I really liked the previous book by the author; The Dante Club.

Then I saw Revolutionary Road was on the table and I had heard it was more nuanced than the film, so I picked it up, then I had to find a "get one half price" and picked up American Wife which has gotten good reviews.

The clerk asked me if I was on vacation. Nope - just one of those statistically few readers.

Friday, March 27, 2009


I was tagged by Marie over at Attentive Aphorist!

The About Me Meme Rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

1.) I cannot bear to watch boxing or any kind of fist fight. Even the artfully filmed ones. I covered my eyes through most of Rocky and Fight Club. I can watch surgery, all the CSI reinactments, gun play and other simulated gore and violence - but not anyone being hit.

2.) I am glad that the rules against homemade cookies, cupcakes and other goodies being brought to the classroom came after my kids were young. I took great pleasure in making treats for their classes and events. In fact, I have rarely purchased store bought cookies for any reason and only bought bakery cakes when they pretty much insisted on them for parties.

3.) If I am shopping with a cart, I will walk however far it takes to return it to a designated area or back to the store. I will not leave it randomly in the parking lot or shove it into the landscaping.

4.) I am approximately 5 years behind on my photo albums.

5.) I TIVO my two must see TV shows on the night they run. I wait about 15 minutes into the show, then rewind the recored portion of the show. That way I can see it on the night is it on - but skip through the commercials. I hide in my room to watch them and if anyone interrupts me... >=[ (angry face).

6.) I have never eaten Ahi. The rawness scares me.

I am tagging Heidi at small town mom

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I have only worn a few perfumes in my life. I have never been one to change my scent with the season or for special occasions.

In high school I wore one called Woodhue by Fabrege, I found some places on the net that still have it (I assume it is very old - ick) but the elements of it were: bergamot, carnation and violet, geranium, ylang, iris and jasmin. Vetiver, musk and sandalwood.

In college the thing was to wear essential oils and I favored one called China Rain The fragrance, China Rain®, combines the "softness of a bouquet of lilies, the freshness of a fresh cut rose, a hint of moss, while the scent of a fresh spring rain blends with sandalwood and musk."

In my 20's, I discovered the Clinique fragrance "Aromatics Elixir" and wore that for years and years. I actually had a man track me down (pre-internet) and call me because he smelled the perfume on someone in a crowd and just had to talk to a memorable scent. I wore it up until I was first pregnant and I couldn't stand the scent any longer. Even after I had my babies and in the years since, when I have gone back to it again, it still smells wrong to me. It had "notes of rose, jasmine, ylang ylang and vetiver."

I missed wearing perfume, but I went without a scent for a long time. I was attending a workshop which lasted several days and was struck by the lovely scent of one of the women.
The last day I asked what she wore. It was "Tova" which is sold on QVC. It was a light, clean scent which reminded me of the China Rain I wore in college. I ordered it and was thrilled with how it worked on me. I received compliments all the time. I wore it for about 8 years.
Then - they changed it.
It has a harsh, alcohol smell when you spray it on which lasts a few moments ( it was advertisied as containing no alcohol), but then it doesn't have the depth or richness it used to have. It also doesn't last very long.
On the QVC site there are 17 pages of comments - mostly complaints about the change to the fragrance. There is no response from QVC about it. When I wrote the company about it, I got a form letter back. Apparently QVC bought the line from the woman who started it, changed it and refuses to acknowledge that they did.
The notes in the Tova were: bergamot, lavendar, jasmin, sandlewood. I have looked in stores and online for similar componants in perfumes for over 2 years. In fact at Nordstom they pulled out a huge book that cross referenced different fragrances. I have not found anything I like. I have found through all this research, that there are certain elements that I like which are found in all the fragrances I have liked - so I still have hope. In the meantime, I may go back to the college scent. It fits my current budget better anyway.
It is hard to express how much ill will I harbor for QVC because of this!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I saw this on Barb's site - she had a whole story to go with it. I just loved the clip.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I hadn't seen the doves since Sunday so I climbed up to investigate - no more eggs.

I think the squirrel that has been driving Hilda crazy may have eaten them for a midnight snack. I have seen it on the patio a few times.

This squirrel has also been up in my mosaic area. It has chewed through the tarps and then tore up all my boxes, it is a major mess and a lot of my things were exposed for a while before I was aware of the invasion.

I am so sorry to miss out on watching the baby birds.

Today the squirrel was eating up all the special (expensive) bird seed I bought for the dove family. So I dropped the feeder down with about 3 feet of wire to get it out of reach from the arbour.
I went to the gym at noon and jumped into the shower when I got home, I was opening the bathroom window when I saw that the squirrel was trying over and over to figure out how to get to the seeds. There was a big blue jay squawking at it the whole time, and then I yelled at it and it took off. It was doing a good job figuring out how to get to the feeder - so I'll have to make a new plan if the birds are going to get any of the seeds.
I had no idea working from home would be so involved.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


This is a new recipe for us, and it was a hit. I served it with a green salad and pineapple for dessert.

I did adjust the seasonings down a bit as Ally can't handle much heat. I reduced the cumin and the amount of chiles and enchilada sauce.

I found it on the Cooking Light website.


1 cup (4 oz) pre-shredded Mexican Blend cheese
1/3 cup low fat milk
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 t ground cumin
1/8 t ground red pepper
1 (14 3/4 - oz) can creamed corn
1 (8.5 - oz) box corn muffin mix
1 (4 - oz.) can diced green chiles, drained
1 910-oz.) can enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 400.

Combine 1/4 cup cheese an next 7 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13x9 inch baking dish which has been coated with cooking spray or oiled.

Bake for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into squares, top each with sour cream.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I have been enjoying the presence of a couple of doves in the yard, even though they have been pooping on my chairs. Hilda has been barking and chasing them during her between-naps-yard- patrols, so I had not realized that they had found our yard pleasant enough to build a nest until yesterday when I went out to tend the yard and sweep the patio.

The birds were sitting on the top of a lattice full of jasmin, right next to our sliding door. They don't seem to mind us going in and out, but the broom handle spooked them when I was sweeping the top step, so I investigated and there was the nest and a couple of eggs.

I then pestered them all afternoon trying to get a picture of one of them on the nest, that is why it is pretty dark!

I hope that all goes well and that we get to see the baby birds. I understand that they don't stay long after the babies hatch.
I'll try to get more pictures.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Finally got my computer online yesterday - four and a half days with no internet gave me some book and newspaper reading time, but I found out how frequently I use the internet for things. i I could barely make a grocery shopping list.

I watched the Jon Stewart vs. CNBC/ Jim Cramer shows on TIVO. Then watched John King interviewing Dick Cheney and wished that Stewart could have interviewed Cheney. Why is it that the "entertainment" side of the media is more direct and assertive in interviews than the journalists? Remember when "The View" was the first to call out the Republicans on all the lies during the campaign - then all the news outlets finally started discussing the factual distortions on both sides of the campaigns. Someone needs to challenge Cheney or any other representative of the former administration when they suggest they had nothing to do with our current financial crisis. Jon Stewart would have, and it would have been entertaining, too.

I really have mixed feelings about the cutting of health care for undocumented immigrants in California due to the huge cuts in the state budget:
After letting go of social workers, cutting mental health services and watching a delivery room built to handle 120 births a month accommodate 240, there were few other options, said Contra Costa Health Services Director William Walker."We've never had this crisis before," said Walker. "We've tried to carefully slice what we thought we could without cutting off our ability to respond. Now we're looking at bad choices among bad choices."

Hospitals receiving Medicaid funds must provide emergency medical care, despite immigration status, but primary medical care is not guaranteed.
It bothers me that low income people have difficulty getting the services they need because of the cost of helping undocumented workers, it also bothers me that we make it so hard for people to come to this country legally to take the low paying jobs they are willing to take. I suspect that having their yard work done and their houses cleaned were some of the first things people dropped when their portfolios went bust. Which means there are a lot of undocumented workers in real trouble right now.

On the other hand - hundreds of teachers, counselors and other staff have been cut from our local schools and something has got to give. Somewhere.

We watched a wonderful movie that I hope will not be overlooked on video - The Great Buck Howard. It stars John Malcovich as a magician/mentalist, touring the smallest of venues of the country with his newly hired assistant played by Colin Hanks. Hanks is trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life and Malcovich is looking to get back into a brighter limelight. It is a smart, charming comedy, Malcovich really makes his character ring true, both as a smarmy show biz veteran and as a complex, kind human being with some real talent.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I was in Philadelphia with Maggie when she was touring colleges a while back. She had been invited to stay with some of the crew team members in the dorm and I took the opportunity to visit a restaurant which had been recommended, White Dog Cafe.

I ordered a split of wine and what turned out to be a yummy piece of fish. I had a book with me in case I wanted to read at the table, but became engrossed in the conversations at the table for 6 set in front of me. Yes, I was eavesdropping, Actually, I was openly listening and would have joined in if given the opportunity.

They were all in their mid to late 20's. An engaged couple, a married couple a single woman and a single man. The discussions covered their jobs, living arrangements, friends, friends having babies and not liking the names they were given (someone had named their girl Cecelia, a name I considered for Allison. Hey! It was my Grandmother's name. And CeCe for short sounded cute.)

Anyway, I was put in mind of a side conversation between the married woman and the engaged woman about cooking and Rachel Ray came up. Engaged woman said how much she loved RR and had a couple of her cookbooks. Married woman was disapproving of RR. Engaged woman backpedaled a bit and the conversation turned to married woman's job and engaged woman's feelings that maybe she shouldn't have quit her job to play house with engaged man.

That evening was the first time I had heard of RR haters. Apparently there are blogs dedicated to bashing her. I don't exactly follow her every move, but I am aware that she is very open about her lack of training and penchant for short cuts. She doesn't profess to be a "chef", she is a home cook like the vast majority of us. She doesn't profess to be a Martha Stewart, either. Her shows are very down to earth, I suspect her magazine is, too.

I was reading an article on Salon about an interview she did with ABC journalist Cynthia McFadden. McFaddon questioned RR about having children, Ray said something along the lines of I'm 40, I'm busy with work and I like kids but I couldn't be a good mom and keep all my commitments. McFaddon asks her if she thinks she'll miss something. Geez.

When are we women going to stop questioning and judging other women for their choices? And yes, I see this as being a judgement, because why would it be any one's business to ask such a question unless it was to judge? Does anyone ask MEN these questions? And if a young woman decides to leave work and settle down with a young man and cook dinner with a recipe from a Rachel Ray cookbook and she is happy doing it - that is okay, too.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


The last few Sunday dinners have been cobbled together since I have been gone or sick or uninspired. This Sunday has been a lovely, sunny day. I read the paper outside at the patio table and filled the bird feeders.

I thought about going out to buy fish to BBQ, but never did.


1/2 t PEPPER

Wilt spinach with 1/4 salt in large pan, remove to a bowl and set aside. Cook bacon in the pan until crisp. Remove to paper towels and pour off all but 2 t drippings. Fry onion in drippings until soft, add wine to pan, cook until reduced, remove from heat and keep warm.

Cook pasta and drain, reserving 1 T cooking liquid. Immediately put pasta in pan with onions, add reserved liquid, spinach and bacon, toss to combine. Place skillet over low heat.

In bowl, whisk together cheese, eggs and pepper. Add to pasta, tossing to coat. Cook for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and add parsley.

This recipe is from Cooking Light. 1 cup serving is 387 Calories.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

BBC Big Read List

This is a list of the BBC All-Time "top 100" Most Loved Books. This sort of list is really quite subjective - and shows a preponderance of British writers. But I like to see how many I have read and get idea for future picks. I really need to check out Terry Pratchett, a multiple place holder. I am surprised that there are no Maeve Binchy titles - our current book club author, then again, she is Irish!

And, no, I have not read the Harry Potter books. My kids have read and re-read them and I have seen the movies. The genre is not of interest to me.

I have highlighted the ones I have read, not quite half.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles'
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


My little sister - a mom of 3 darling girls - just sent this to me. I hope to clear out the foggy cold brain in the next day or 2 - meantime, enjoy!

Monday, March 2, 2009


I habe managed to catch another I was watching some afternoon TV and caught word of this new campaign.

I completely support this! I have been asking people to stop using the "R" word for a long time. I became aware of Downs Syndrome in the early 70's when my high school psychology teacher, Mrs. Mahon, confided in me that she had a Downs son and I met him. I was never tolerant of the use of the "R" word ever again and taught my children that it is an ignorant and hurtful word.

This PSA was created by 16 year old Noah Gray.