Book boredom

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I am about 80 pages into a book I should have finished over a week ago and I can’t muster the ‘want’ to keep reading.  The book is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.  It is a a National Bestseller, has received a lot of praise and I have seen it on numerous “To Read” lists on the internet.  I figured it would be a sweet and easy read but so far, I am just bored.

The back cover synopsis says that it is about a recently retired man who receives a letter from an old friend, Queenie, who is in hospice.  Harold feels the need to deliver his response to the letter in person and he must do it on foot, a journey of over 600 miles.  As long as he walks she will stay alive.  It sound so sweet but so far, all Harold has been doing is walking, meeting people, and reflecting on missed opportunities from his life.

I hate when I feel this way about a book.  Like it isn’t worth my time and I should just skip on o the next one.  I hate leaving a book without finishing it, especially when the book is so short and simple.  I am beyond bored.   So far, it is of an old man is walking, that is it!  I know the book has to pick up some but how many pages of thoughts about lacking proper walking gear or the scenery or distances to/from can I read?

I can’t figure out what I should do at this point.  I am only 1/3 through this book but I am already giving up on the book.  Is it best that I just give up, cut my losses and move on to the next hopefully more interesting read?  Or do I suck it up, buckle down and charge through the rest of this book at super speed?  It is these types of books that make me hate reading which is sad because it is one of my favorite pastimes.  Right now I am looking for excuses not to read.

I think it is best if I get off the computer and just read.  I need to read right now to finish this book.  I hope it gets better and I hope that my next blog is about this book.  That I finished it and am not as disappointed as I am now.  I hope it turns around a bit and I end up liking it.  I hope.

Going back to high school

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Sometimes I wish I could go back to high school and do things differently.  I am usually not one to regret but there are things I did that I wasn’t proud of, didn’t try, people I hurt, people I distanced myself from and others who I allowed get close when I shouldn’t have.

High school is such a developmental milestone in any person’s life.  It is the place to make lifelong friends and memories.  Most people enter high school one person and leave entirely different, hopefully more mature and smarter.

Around this time ten years ago I started my senior year.  Of my four years, I believe the person I was my senior year is most like the person I should have been the entire time but still light-years away from the person I am today.

I look back at who I was in those days and feel like an ass.  I was mean to one girl in particular for no reason at all.  I hung out with a certain group of people because that’s who my boyfriend at the time was friend with.  I avoided certain groups because I felt like I wouldn’t fit in or I thought I was better than them.  Turns out a lot of those people I didn’t get to know are really great people.  Thankfully Facebook has come along and I can reconnect with some of whom I wasn’t a total bitch to.  I see a lot of them have traveled, have families, and really great lives.

Besides the relationships, I regret my lack of drive to do better in school.  I should have been held back my freshmen year because I did so poorly.  I am a smart cookie but I just didn’t try.  I was the type that did homework just didn’t turn it in.  I didn’t care about certain teachers/classes so I didn’t pay attention.  I was reminiscing the other day about my World History class taught by Mr. Lowery.  He was such a great teacher with passion for the subject and he was stuck teaching my inconsiderate ass.  I didn’t try, I didn’t pay attention, and I gave attitude when he addressed me.  Why?  Because I am a fool.  If I could take his class today it would probably be one of my favorite ones.  I just didn’t care then and it is such a shame.

I have so much life experience, I am a mom, I’ve seen so much, known so many, made a million decisions, and overall have changed entirely since my days in high school.  I really don’t like to think about regrets because everything in my past has made me who I am today.  If I had done better early in my high school career maybe I would have gotten into the University I wanted (Forida! Go Gators!) right after I graduated rather than waiting two years.  If I hadn’t dated the same guy the entire time who knows what my relationship status would have been when I met my now, husband.

I am sad for the girl I was 2000-2004.  I am so much happier now than I was then, so much more social, smarter, productive, and a better person.  There is no sense in wishing I could go back and change things, I can’t, but if I could have another shot at it I know as the person I am today I would do things differently than I had.  I like who I am so much more than who I was.

Honey cupcakes for my Bumble Bee’s birthday!

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Miss Kylee has a handful of nicknames but since she was still in my belly we have called her “Bumble Bee”.  I would joke that she would buzz around my belly so the name stuck.  I have always kept an eye out for “bee” themed items for her and knew that for her first birthday we would throw her a ‘First Bee-Day” party.

I initially figured we wouldn’t be able to throw her an individual party because Kyle is going to be away again for her actual birthday.  We started planning a joint party for her and Reece but after a lot of thought and discussion on the matter we came up with a way to give her her own special day.  We are squeezing the party in to a short timeframe when Kyle is still in town and my mom is here (it is about a 12 hour overlap).

If you are familiar with our family you would know my mom is our resident “Cake Lady”.  She makes some amazing cakes and can decorate them as beautifully as the masters do.  I hoped she could make Kylee’s cupcakes and smash cake but we will literally be picking her up from the airport 90 minutes before the start of the party, not enough time for her special skill.  So it is up to me.

Pinterest saved me.  I found this amazing recipe for Honey cupcakes with a Honey & Cream Cheese frosting.  The original recipe is from The Cake Blog. I just made them as a test run and I can say for certain that these little cakes of amazing will be made time and time again.  I know our little Bumble Bee and her guests will love them!

Honey Cupcakes!

Honey Cupcakes!

For the cake:

1 stick butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In medium bowl mix together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
  3. In small bowl mix together wet ingredients: buttermilk, honey and vanilla, set aside.
  4. In bowl of stand mixer cream butter and sugar on medium speed until combined.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. Gradually add the dry and wet ingredients, alternating starting and ending with dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  7. Using ice cream scoop fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  9. Let cupcakes cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to finish cooling.
  10. Once cupcakes are completely cool, ice with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting.

For the frosting:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, softened
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 Tbsp honey
yellow food coloring (optional)
yellow sugar sprinkles

  1. In bowl of stand mixer cream butter and cream cheese until combined.
  2. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar and continue to mixing scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  3. Mix in honey.
  4. If desired add a few drops of yellow food coloring to slightly tint the icing.
  5. Place the icing in a piping bag fitted with a round decorating tip and swirl the frosting on top of the cupcake going in a circular motion.
  6. Add some yellow sugar sprinkles and enjoy!

To give credit where credit is due, recipe and image stolen from thecakeblog.com.  Go check that blog out for more cake inspiration!

To-do, almost done (plus some)

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Every time Kyle has to leave I make a list of all the things I want to accomplish while he is away.  I can’t pinpoint why I am so much more productive when he’s gone, I just am.  After I put the kids down I turn on some music and get to work.  I usually stay up until some crazy hour of the night then crash into bed out of sheer exhaustion.  It is the only thing to look forward to concerning Kyle’s absence.

This go-around I wrote out a list that had 18 things.  Easy ones such as anchoring the cable in our bedroom to the wall and more time consuming ones such as refinishing the dining room table.  It is a dream list, one I know I won’t finish but at least everything is written in one place so that I can stay reminded of the things I want to do.

Kyle comes home tomorrow morning and I must admit, while looking over this list and looking around my house I feel like I made some serious headway.  I put away all of the stray linens that were still sitting in boxes since we moved, I went through/sorted all of my clothes and thrifted a ton, I cleaned out the truck, organized Kylee’s closet by size, started Reece’s busy book, re-covered the corkboard, painted our growth chart, and anchored that damn cable in our bedroom.  In addition to checking off those things from my list I also organized the laundry room, moved the unused couch ottomam out of the living room, hung a shelf in the kitchen, cleaned up my bookshelves, organized my desk, moved and organized the kids’ bookshelf, cleaned out the fridge, and cut the grass.

I love that things are getting done.  I have these grand plans to stay as productive when Kyle is home but deep in the back of my brain I know this is not the case.  We prefer to spend our time together by being together.  We may not be doing anything glamorous but watching TV with him takes precedence over thrifting old clothes.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no intentions of becoming a bum when Kyle is not away and blaming it on wanting to spend time together.  There are so many things that need to get done around the house that would be more fun if we did it together such as painting the picnic table.  It will be hot and messy work but it will be worth it for 1. The end product and 2. A fun way to be together while accomplishing something.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even let him help me refinish the dining room table (this is a project I have a little OCD over).

I am a little sad that not everything on my list was completed.  I wanted him to come home and I proudly show him everything checked off but I know as soon as he walks in the house he will notice a big difference with all the changes I was able to make.   I feel so accomplished.  Plus there will be more trips and to-do lists in the near future.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

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I have read a lot of really great books but there are few that leave me wishing the book would never end.  The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon is nearly 700 pages and I still wanted more.  I was sad when it ended but the story was complete with no need to go on.

This was one of the four books Kyle selected for me as a birthday present back in May.  I was unsure about it after reading the synopsis on the back because comic books aren’t really my ‘thing’. But it had won the Pulitzer and I am a sucker for accolades so I decided to jump in when I was ready for my next book.

The first thing I noticed was the author’s witty voice.  The sentences felt like they belonged in a comic book.  They had the personality and attitude to match the purpose of the sentence.  There was no fluff, no unnecessary exaggerations; you got what you needed and nothing more.  I hate overly descriptive books where the author takes four pages to paint a scene down the dust on furniture and was relieved that Chabon never once wasted my time with that crap.  There was so much story on every page that even though it took me a while to read, it kept me so engaged that time flew right by.

The Amazing Adventures  of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures
of Kavalier & Clay
by Michael Chabon

Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay are the two protagonists in this epic novel.  Joe escaped from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia leaving behind his family in hopes of making enough money in America to pay their fair to join him.  Sam, his cousin had big dreams of striking it rich by producing comic books but he has no artistic talent.  The two join up, Joe illustrating while Sammy comes up with the storyline, to create a super successful series called The Escapist about a masked man who can escape from any bonding.

The relationship between the cousins is wholesome.  Both are about the same age with similar interests (magic and especially Harry Houdini) and both desire to be successful even if it is for two seriously different reasons.  They work together, and have a believable and authentic feeling relationship.  I fell in love with the young men, whole heartedly wishing nothing but the best for them.

As the two become successful Joe is hit time and time again with the news of his family’s status.  He saves every penny he can to help get them out of harm’s way even going so far as paying for the passage of other Jews to better the chances for his brother.  Over the years Joe develops a relationship with Rosa which softens him some but the future of his family is always in the back of his mind.

Sammy was raised mostly by his mother while his father traveled in a circus like setting.  Struggling with his own sexuality, a physical handicap, and the lackluster payout of his comic authorship dreams, Sammy cannot find a stream for direction in his life.

I just loved this book.  This is the type that I wish I was still in DC with my book club ladies so we could discuss it.  There was so much story and although I was reading it for what seemed like for-ev-er I still could not put it down.  There were no dull moments, no characters I couldn’t stand, no sub-plots that didn’t connect, and no missed opportunities.  There is so much to talk about but I do not want to give away any of the book so please believe me when I tell you that this book was great.  Don’t be daunted by the length of this novel just pick up a copy and read it (you can thank me later).

After finishing I was doing a little research and discovered that The Amazing Adventures of The Escapist was actually made into a comic book in three parts which I quickly ordered and am now waiting on.  Since I ordered them used from a private seller it will take a while for them to arrive but once they do I hope to devour them and write additional reviews.

I have baby fever, royally!

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I am one of them.  I am going nuts, haven’t turned off the tv, checking the web for updates, and soaked in all of the Royal baby news I can find.  Every girl, at some point or another, dreamed of being a princess and I find it so exciting that a normal girl went from unknown to crowned! 

Congrats Willy and Kate on your new Prince!!!

They are some of the small fraternity of people who can actually call their child a ‘prince’ and it be accurate.   

I don’t indulge in much of celebrity gossip and I rarely watch reality TV but when it comes to the Royal clan over in Great Britain I just can’t seem to get enough of it. 

First was the drama of Will and Kate’s on-and-off relationship. My heart broke when their representatives announced they had split up but then skipped a beat when it was announced they had gotten back together.  I thought “those two are destined to end up together”.  William-and-Kate

Then they did!  I ate up every second of coverage about their engagement.  I was the person scoured the internet looking at her ring, their engagement photo, and searching for the story of how he asked.  As the wedding detail were released I followed along, it was so much fun. 

I was on the couch at the crack of dawn (Eastern time) to watch the wedding of William and Catherine.  I watched every second then read a bunch of news articles and watched replays for days after.  At the time of their nuptials I worked at Borders so I read biographies about the pair.  I was enamored. 

I had hoped for baby news soon but was totally caught off guard when officials announced Kate was in the hospital then confirmed she was PREGNANT!  There is nothing more relatable than pregnancy for a princess and the average person.  She will suffer morning sickness (even though her’s was more extraordinary) and put on weight (even though she looked phenomenal at every appearance) and in the end she will have to deliver (even though her care is different than you or I may get).  Pregnancy is one of the great equalizers because the baby –for the most part- is in control. 

So news broke last night (HST) and I have been hooked to media since.  I woke up and checked my phone and the news for any announcement of the royal arrival…nothing.  I carried on with my day, taking the kids to a playdate and refused to check my phone, choosing to focus on my babies.  But then after I buckled Kylee in her seat and waited for Reece to buckle his I checked my phone and saw it!  My heart melted.  Now comes weeks and months of baby updates!

I am a sucker but is there a better subject to be a sucker over?  Okay, the Queen is a little detached from the normal world and her son, the Prince of Wales is a bit distanced as well, but Prince William, his beautiful wife, Catherine and Prince Harry seem so normal they’re easily likable. 

I am so happy for the new parents.    

The next 20 books

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I just finished The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay by Michael Chabon and what a book it is!  I feel like I need a couple of days to stew on it before I can write a review because I am a little bitter that it ended.  Not how it ended but that it ended altogether.  It is apparent why this book is a Pulitzer Prize winner.  It was phenomenal.

So instead of writing about the book I just finished I have decided to write about my reading intentions of the future.  I am making a promise to myself and Kyle (even though he want aware of it until this sentence) that I am not buying another book until I read at least 20 of the books on my “to read” list.

I don’t typically like to be confined to a set group of books I can only read, that may be why I buy more books than I have time for so I can still have a choice when the time comes.  I go to Target or peruse Amazon for my ‘next book’ but once the newness of it fades away it finds a place on my bookshelf and a lowly rank on my list.  I have these grand intentions when I buy the book but nothing comes to fruition.

There are 21 books on the bookshelf in our room.  I am always noticing them when I am deep between the covers of a book.  They speak to me.  They cry, “me next!” but when I finish the last word on the last page of the book I finished reading their calls are not nearly as loud as the ones by the books I haven’t purchased yet.  I try to restrain myself but it inevitable for me to walk down the book isle at any retail store and pick up one that will make a perfect addition to my library.  It’s awful.

So, in no specific order here are the next 20 books I plan to read:

Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Drinking Closer to Home by Jessica Anya Blau

The Glassblower of Murano by Maria Fiorato

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo

South of Broad by Pat Conroy

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David wroblewski

The Lost Van Gogh by A. J. Zerries

A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Winter of the World by Ken Follett

The Great Gatsby by F/ Scott Fitzgeralg

These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

And I will start this adventure with The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

 

This will be fun.  A reset on my book buying impulses which will save us money and farce me to follow a syllabus of sorts.