Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Can it be June 30th already?

One last post before June turns into July. Hard to believe summer is almost half finished already. AND 2010 is half over. Where has the year gone?

Jeremy and I have a Netflix account, which we don't put to as much use as we should to get our money's worth. But, our libraries charge for DVDs (even for employees) and Netflix has a greater selection. The other night I was having trouble sleeping, pretty much par for the course for the week, and I decided to watch a documentary I'd had my eye on. If you have Netflix, you know they stream some movies, and that's how I watched No Impact Man. Although a couple days have passed, I can't stop thinking about it.

No Impact Man is the story of one New York family's quest to cause no environmental impact for an entire year. It's fascinating. I don't agree with all that they did--some was quite extreme--but it got me thinking about my stewardship of the environment. I've been striving to recycle more and also go to my local farmer's market. Next, I need to invest in a bike lock, so I can do some biking nearby. Anyway, I recommend you check it out. Even if it doesn't strike a bell with you, it's really just interesting. The couple are quite unique as well. I told Jeremy I'd like to re-watch it with him. We'll see what he thinks.

My little garden is coming along. Only about two-thirds of the flowers survived, for reasons I can't tell. My tomato plants are happily caged and growing. The Lemon Boy is growing like I've never seen a tomato plant grow; it reaches to my belly button. The Roma plant is much smaller, but still healthy, I think. The cucumber is happily climbing up the small trellis I bought, although he keeps trying to reach out and intertwine with the tomato. I stop in every day or two to make sure they are properly separated. :)

Last night I tried a recipe from a new blog I discovered Nourishing Meals. I am always seeking flavorful, healthful, filling recipes and this site seems to have much to offer. I want our table to be filled with foods that satisfy and please. Lately I've been in a terrible rut with cooking. I think I fed Jeremy fried rice three times last week. He's quite the trooper and doesn't complain. I'm blessed with any easy man to feed. Anyway, back to the new recipe: Fresh Vegetable Curry. Oh my, it was delicious! I didn't have all the vegetables suggested so mine included red potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, napa cabbage, orange bell pepper, and green beans. I'll definitely be making it again.

Since I can't imagine life without books, I've been reading a lot. The summer reading program at my library has a separate program for the staff. For each book I read I get a chance at a the grand prize drawing of a $25 restaurant gift card! So far I've read 6 books to enter (they must be library materials)! And I'll keep going. I'm going to post my halfway through the year reading list in a different post. Stay-tuned for that in the next couple days.

Thanks for stopping by. It's nice to know there are a few of you out there reading this sporadic blog of mine. Happy Summer to You!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Folks on the Street Corner

Have you ever stopped and given some sort of help to a person standing on the side of the road holding a cardboard sign (Hungry Kids at Home Any Help Appreciated God Bless You)?

There are certain spots along my usual route that seem to be regularly populated by sign-holders. I inevitably feel a twinge of sadness and pity for them, but don’t stop and often try to avoid any sort of eye contact.

My rational behind not offering anything runs along the lines of, I won’t give them money because I figure they’ll misuse it and I don’t have any food to offer them, so I guess I’ll sort of pretend they’re not there.

Several years ago, when my sister and her husband lived in Florida, I went for a mid-winter three week visit (it was a blast!). The three of us planned a weekend camping trip, but while driving to the campground a storm started blowing in and we decided to abort the trip. On the return trip we passed a guy asking for help. We hollered across a couple lanes of traffic while at a stopped light, asking if he’d like some apples. We gave him chocolate milk and apples and the look of utter gratitude and the way he immediately bit into an apple, was heartwarming.

For several years I’ve figured it wouldn’t hurt to occasionally buy some non-perishable food items and keep them in my car to hand out. But I never remember that plan until I see another person holding a sign.

At New Years as Jeremy and I drove home from family Christmas celebration, we passed a man asking for help. I had a little food with me and I asked Jeremy if we should ask the guy if he’d like an apple (what’s with apples coming up every time?). Jeremy rolled down the window and asked. The guy said no, that someone else had already given him an apple. This sort of floored me that he was turning down food, but that was his prerogative. It was bitter cold out and it was nearing evening, so Jeremy asked if the guy needed a scarf, and the man once again declined.

That whole experience left me befuddled and wondering if all the cardboard holders are that picky.

What’s your take on it all? Have you ever interacted with any of these folks before?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Music Reviews

A brief review of two groups I like because of their recent CDs...

Back in college at the suggestion of my sister, Elizabeth, I purchased a CD called Hopes and Fears by the British group Keane (I'm sure I've mentioned it here before, but Liz and I started an annual tradition of buying one new CD each on our trip back to college for second semester). I absolutely loved the original piano-driven rock melodies. I became an instant fan. When their second CD, Under the Iron Sea, was released, I bought that one too and while it didn't hold the same pleasure as the first album, I still loved it. Perfect Symmetry came out sometime in the midst of wedding planning and well, it got bumped to the wayside until I checked it out of the library some months later. Still a great group, but the songs didn't catch and hold my attention quite so completely. Recently while perusing new books and music being released, I noticed Keane was releasing an album, Night Train. I immediately put a hold on it at my library and eagerly brought it home a couple weeks later. I was disappointed. I think I listened to it maybe three times before returning the CD. Not only were the songs rather forgettable, but also at least two tracks were collaborations with a Canadian rapper. I don't like rap, period. But when combined with a favorite group, it's just plain unfortunate. And the songs sounded nothing like the Keane I knew and loved. I hope Keane returns to it's roots in Hopes and Fears when I couldn't get enough of the lyrically haunting melodies, supported with some gorgeous piano. (As an aside, I was looking on Amazon to see what sort of reviews the album received, and well, from the looks of it, I'm not in the minority at all!)

Around the same time I introduced myself to Keane, I was introduced to another guy, Jack Johnson. It was some time before I acquired any of his CDs and listened to them thoroughly, but I was hooked. Brushfire Fairytales and On and On released in the early 2000s are laid back albums filled with Johnson's unique acoustic style and original songs. I find his music difficult to describe, so here's a quick bio quote from Amazon, which sums it up quite well, "Former pro surfer turned singer-songwriter Jack Johnson is a native of Hawaii, and his music reflects the laid back surfer attitude and crystal clarity of the water. Sweet, simple, acoustic surfer-rock is Johnson's specialty." His next albums, In Between Dreams and Sleep Through the Static didn't disappoint. Johnson's style is very consistent and if I have a complaint, it's that many of his songs sound similar, so there isn't great variety. But when I played his recent CD, To the Sea, I was reminded again how much I enjoy the simplicity of his sound. I will admit that two songs on this newest album stick out to me as I listen, and I mean more in a jarring sort of way, like they don't fit in quite as well (Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology and People Taking Pictures). That is not to say, I don't enjoy the songs, but more find the flow of the CD is slightly disrupted. Regardless, Jack Johnson delivers a solid sound every album and that's something I appreciate. Johnson also did the soundtrack to The Curious George movie...though more childlike, still good stuff there too!

Have you listened to any of these albums? What did you think? Also, I'm always up for new music suggestions!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ice Cream Maker Love

For awhile now I've been wanting an ice cream maker. This, of course, isn't a necessity for our life, and our budget laughed at my desire to purchase one (not to mention our waistbands don't need a steady diet of ice cream). So I put it on my to-want list for my birthday or Christmas.

A couple weeks ago my friend Elora and her husband were over for supper. She mentioned she was selling an ice cream maker on Craigslist and then she asked, "Do you want it? I know you said awhile back you wanted to get an ice cream maker sometime. I don't think I'm going to get what I want out of it anyway, so I'd rather give it to someone who I know will use it."

Last Saturday, I became the owner of a counter-top, stainless steel Cuisinart ice cream maker (it matches my rice cooker, toaster, and my coffeemaker!). I haven't used it yet, but I look forward to that first batch of homemade ice cream!

My mom likes to say that this is the way that God loves us. In little ways He reminds us that He's there and He cares. For this week, He showed me love through an ice cream maker.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Yesterday was a ridiculously hot and lazy sort of day. After I worked until 1 and grocery shopped my way home, I didn't feel like doing much else. So, Jeremy decided to take me out to supper (although wouldn't tell me where). We enjoyed hamburgers and pleasant conversation, but a look out the window revealed nasty weather coming and I was ready to go home. Unfortunately, the power went out of the restaurant right about this time, and because all of the world functions on technology powered by electricity, we couldn't get our bill until the computers came back up.

By the time, we made our escape, the wind was bending small trees sideways and flipping umbrellas inside-out, and huge raindrops pelted the sidewalk. Did I mention we were at the mall and our car was what seemed a mile away?! We made a run for it. I admittedly squealed many times and laughed like a crazy person as the rain changed directions and splattered against my glasses making it hard to see. About halfway to our car, we ducked under an awning to catch our breath and re-group (the laughter, though fun, was making the running more difficult). Another dash for the car--though I did ask Jeremy if he just wanted to walk as we were already soaked--and we finally reached it, shirts sticking to us, glasses impossibly covered with raindrops, and laughing at the craziness of it all.

We'd been gone for maybe an hour and a half, but the streets were strewn with branches and leaves; several homes had large chunks of trees down. Stoplights stood blank, making the already dangerous downpour, a little scarier as not every car stopped as it should. But, we made it safely home and inside to dry off and finish the evening watching episodes of The Office.

This morning after I dropped Jeremy off at work, I ran a couple errands. Every where I drove, families were out in their yards gathering storm debris and bringing order back to their yards so hastily damaged by the wind and rain.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I know it's been awhile...

Because I don't have much of interest to share, I'll give you a quick run-down of the goings-on around here...

*My grandpa turned 90 on Monday and I got to help celebrate at our annual Memorial Day gathering.

*My older sister turned 31 on Tuesday. I didn't get to help celebrate, but I heard she had a great day.

*Patrons at the library have been invading my personal space a little too frequently.

*A house I pass on my way to work planted fake flowers along the edge of the yard...perpetual tulips and gladiolas and such.

*I'm 760 pages into Gone With the Wind. I decided to finish it, which I guess I'm glad about, but now I'm ready to finish it and move on.

*On Sunday Jeremy and I are headed on a short vacation to our favorite spot in MI.

*Today I found gluten-free oats marked down to $1.50/lb (regularly $3.50-$4/lb) and I gave a mental happy dance and thanked God for the provision. 8 lbs should keep up in oats for awhile.

*My landlord gave me permission to plant in a small patch of dirt outside my door. I excitedly planned and planted my "garden". But, it's not thriving and I don't know what to do for it.

*Last Friday a friend came over to watch the new BBC mini-series of Emma. If you haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for? It's fabulous, so check your local library and get watching.

*My favorite warm weather dessert right now is fruit with fresh whipped cream.

What's going on in your neck of the woods?
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