Friday, November 28, 2008

You Know How They Say Bad Things Come in Threes? Geez.

Came home yesterday evening after a busy day at work and a very nice Thanksgiving meal with friends to a door that had been busted open.

The main thing they took besides some jewelery was the valet case from my husbands dresser. All our spare car keys, a Sears card, and other paperwork - gone.

We spent the evening hiding our cars since our garage is unattached and super easy to break into, especially if you had keys to the two cars inside which happen to be amongst the most stolen vehicles (Hondas).

What is so crazy, is that when I discovered that the jerk, who incidentally SMELLED and stunk up my bedroom with his BODY ODOR and CIGARETTE, hauled his loot away in my lovely linen pillow sham which was long searched for and irreplaceable I became LIVID and screamed and kicked the bed. My daughter says robbers should carry their OWN bags, and doggone it, she's right.

So this is the THIRD lousy thing that happened this Fall (perhaps you recall my husband's car accident which totalled his car and my daughter's head injury in the middle of the night), so I hope it is the LAST, because I am due for some BETTER LUCK.

The end.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Most Wonderful Book

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith might be the most wonderful book, I think. I've just read it for the second time and I could begin again right now. Francie Nolan is one of the most appealing heroines in all of literature. She is smart and book-loving, sincere,truthful, and hardworking, and despite everything she goes through in her life, she remains hopeful and engaged. The story begins when Francie and her brother Neely are young, living in the slums in Brooklyn in 1912. They collect trash to sell to the junk man, fight crowds for stale bread and broken pies, they live an existence in which each penny that comes in has already been appropriated for something and nothing is taken for granted. We get to know Francie's family, follow her to the library as she reads her way though the alphabet, and finds herself a better school. Because somehow, Francie knew early on that knowledge would be her ticket for a better life. There is tragedy and sorrow in this story alongside little happinesses and moments of joy. It is a human story and this is why perhaps this book is considered a classic. It is so difficult to explain what is so very special about this book, it tells a tale that so many people lived, but in such an eloquent and direct way.

I couldn't recommend this book any more highly. I've also enjoyed Smith's book Joy in the Morning and have a copy of Maggie Now which is out of print and I'm saving for a rainy day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Every Vote Counts

So, I wanted to do a book review today, but I got too busy and that's not happening.

I hate to bring up the 'go vote' thing again, I mean it's three weeks after the election, but here in Minnesota the recount for senator has just begun.

You wouldn't believe the photos of ballots they're showing online and on the front page of the paper. Check this out. This person voted for two people - huh? Do they think we have runoff voting??

I'm not saying this to be mean. But seriously, voting is important. And you have to do it right! You have to fill in the circle with the provided black market. Not make a check mark. Not an X. If you messed up, like my first example above, wouldn't you ask for a new ballot?

Watching this so closely in the state in which I live makes me feel such an overwhelming sense of EVERY VOTE COUNTS. This recount is going to go down to the wire. There could be just a few votes separating the candidates when all is counted and recounted, and challenged and confirmed. Just think, no matter which way this goes, those who voted for the winner will realize, that WOW! If I hadn't voted, the other guy would have won. It's amazing to watch this recount.

Don't stay home because you figure your choice is a shoe-in.

Every Vote Counts.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Green Beauty Guide - Booktour (and a giveaway!)

Confession: I love my beauty products. Sometimes it feels as though I've spent my entire life trying various products to finally get to the point where I am now - with my skin not breaking out or reacting to things all the time. So when my husband wondered why, with all the organic food and household cleaners that I purchase, I don't consider all the products I'm covering myself in. Good question, but to tell the truth I didn't really want to think about it.

Enter Lisa from TLC Booktours and her offer to me to host Julie Gabriel and her book, The Green Beauty Guide. Julie Gabriel has written a complete and all encompassing book about green beauty - from head to toe. I knew she had me after I read the second chapter, beauty and the toxic beast. Gabriel discusses specific ingredients contained in most beauty products that are just plain toxic, and the fact that they're not really being regulated. This was a huge take home message for me. Gabriel provides a list of specific ingredients/chemicals to avoid. If you are like me, most everything in your bathroom will contain these things.

What's a girl (or boy) to do? Not only does Gabriel give examples of products she recommends, she also give recipes to prepare your own beauty products. I'd love to try her hand and nail treatments! Gabriel says that if there's one product you should replace, it's your moisturizer since it sits on your skin all day with plenty of opportunity for absorption, unlike soap. I thought great - I have a bottle of Whole Foods brand lotion that I had a coupon for - I'll use that. When I looked at it, wouldn't you know it contained several of the ingredients Gabriel recommends avoiding. The point is, as Gabriel says, you really need to be vigilant in seeking out green products and making sure they are actually green instead to just appearing to be.

From Gabriel's Ten Commandments of Green Beauty, to the incredibly helpful appendix complete with online product sources and resources, this book covers it all as far as green beauty goes. From hair care, to toenail polish, Gabriel shares her thoughts and suggestions on each and every topic.

I didn't agree with everything in Gabriel's book. For example, the idea of rinsing my face with imported bottled mineral water simply because it contains magnesium does not strike me as being an especially green suggestion. But overall, I found The Green Beauty Guide to be a helpful addition to my 'green' library, and I imagine I'll refer to it often as I adjust my personal regimen to make it more green.

If you would like to read more about Julie Gabriel and The Green Beauty Guide, may I suggest her website - I've enjoyed browsing it myself.

If you would like to visit other stops on the booktour (there are more giveaways!), you may find them here.

Now for the fun! The publisher accidentally sent me two copies of The Green Beauty Guide! So I would like to share one with you. To win this book, you must leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite green beauty item, or if you don't have one, what you perceive to be the biggest challenge in transitioning to green beauty products. There is one entry per person. You do not have to have a blog to enter, but please make sure I have a way to contact you via email if you've won. I'm sorry to have to restrict this contest to US addresses only - I checked the shipping costs for Canada and the UK and I simply cannot afford it right now. I will close the comments and draw the winner on November 28.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Live to Tell

Thank you for all your kind comments on my last post!

I survived the night shift. It's not the work itself that's bad, it's the toll it takes on your body that made this shift so difficult for me. I'd say I lost around 10 hours of sleep over the course of the nights and my brain is still quite fuzzy. Though, I may actually accomplish something today and hope to shower before 5:00 which will be an improvement.

I realized that I haven't done a new books post lately and things are piling up around here. In lieu of having anything more interesting to say, here goes:

Some books came from swaps. I was thrilled when The Toss of a Lemon became available!

Some of them I won - great prizes, no?

I've been buying a lot of books lately. These.

And these. No wonder my husband is telling me to take it easy!

There is a definite theme here - mystery and suspense - that wasn't prevalent in my reading a year or two ago. Does anyone have any opinions of any of these?

Now I have a question for you. What is your opinion of reading books in a PDF format for review? Is this something that appeals to you or just the opposite? Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, November 14, 2008

This is a Blog Blackout

{See Below}

Can you believe I have to work overnights as in all night long for the next three nights? Neither can I. I 'volunteered' under threat. Since my body sleeps like clockwork I am extremely anxious about how I am going to get through the next days.

So, I am giving myself a blog blackout. See you next week. Once I've recovered. Eek!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Cool Award

Here's an award I never thought I'd get.

I don't generally think of myself as a creative person so thanks to Iliana for reminding me that I am. In certain ways.

There's a fun meme that goes along with this award. Here goes:

7 things I did before
1. read
2. sleep late
3. go out on the weekends
4. wear short skirts
5. work full time
6. live in Chicago
7. watch tv regularly

7 things I do now
1. read
2. blog
3. eat organically and locally if possible
4. look up old friends on Facebook
5. cannot imagine life without the internet
6. work part time, parent full time
7. volunteer at school

7 things I want to do
1. Travel more
2. Speak French
3. Live overseas for a time
4. Live to see my child as an adult
5. Read all the books in my library (ha!)
6. Learn photography
7. Host holidays at my house

7 things that attract me to the opposite sex
1. Intelligence
2. Sense of humor
3. Height
4. Kindness
5. Stability
6. Parenting ability
7. Ability to put up with me

7 Favorite Foods
1. potato gratin
2. ice cream
3. duck breast
4. butter toffee
5. pasta
6. gin and tonic
7. a big salad full of veggies and some cheese

7 things I Say Most Often
1. Brush your teeth!
2. Pharmacy, may I help you?
3. Let's go, sister.
4. Nuts!
5. She's very active.
6. Thank you.
7. Love.

I am passing this award on to the following people. Remember, this is a no pressure award - participate only if you wish!

1. Carrie K for her cool knitting projects.

2. Simon for his amazing sketches.

3. Bookfool for her photographic artistry.

4. Nan for her photography, cooking and gardening.

5. Bermudaonion for her yummy looking recipes.

6. Elaine for her fantastically hilarious and imaginative writing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Farmer's Market - November 8

We are having Too.Much.Drama. around here. 3:30 Sunday morning found me rushing to the emergency room with a child who fell out of bed and had an enormous lump on her head. Since then we've watched the eye become swollen shut and a huge hematoma migrate to the area around her eye leaving her with a whopper of a shiner. We've also been carefully monitoring her vision and nausea for other unseen injury. This has wiped me out. As a parent, having a sick or injured child is terrifying.

I have more drama (and not the good kind) coming later this week, though this will be planned and will take me away from blogland for several days.

Despite the cold weather at the farmer's market this weekend, everyone was very upbeat. There are still plenty of vegetables available and the meat vendors could actually put their stock on the tables for browsing thanks to the freezing temperatures. This caused me to stock up on meat for the deep freeze. Some of it had just been packaged the night before.

My girl asked me why we had so many 'pumpkins'. I told her they were 3 for 5 dollars - she said 'That's a good price!' It sure is.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thoughts and a winner.

A profound thing happened in the United States last night.

I am proud to have been a part of it.

I am proud that my 6 year old took pride in casting her vote at school yesterday and that the moment she woke up this morning she called "Mama? Did anyone win yet?".

I was proud to tell her that even though she doesn't realize it now, she will remember when she is an old lady, that she was eating popcorn and watching the returns with me, and that vote she cast at school. That she will tell people that she remembers.

It is an amazing and wondrous day in the history of this country.

The winner of The Heretic's Daughter is Chris. Congratulations!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

There is only one word for today.

Do it.

The drawing for The Heretic's Daughter will take place tomorrow.