Monday, October 17, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

Now that the semester has started and I'm teaching college again, I've discovered that I simply can't make as many foods from scratch as I did over the summer. My goal these days is to make big meals once a week so that I can eat easily the rest of the week!

Sunday - I had friends over for brunch after church and made a hash brown potato casserole and an oven omelet. For dinner I cooked up some french toast and we ate leftover has brown casserole with it. I made a HUGE amount of french toast, so I will be eating that for breakfast, and maybe for dinner too this week until I am sick of it.

Monday - Tonight I made enough hamburgers so that I can eat them for dinner for the next couple nights. The meat is from LOCAL, a store near me that sells local, grass fed meats. I basted the hamburgers with teriyaki sauce and ate one on a bun with pineapple rings. Yum! Side dishes were broccoli and baked beans.

Tuesday - leftovers from Monday, eaten quickly before I attend a meeting of the local chapter of the Holistic Moms Network.

Wednesday - more leftovers from Monday.

Thursday - most likely will need to finish up the french toast.

Weekend - I'll be away visiting friends, so they will be feeding me and I'll most likely eat a couple of meals out.

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It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Since the semester started back up, I haven't been reading many books other than those I need to read for class. But now that the semester is halfway over, for some reason I'm reading again. For class I just finished Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself. This is a fascinating read, and every time I read it I underline more and more passages. Pretty soon I will have underlined the whole thing!

Most every day I read a small amount of poetry, and right now I'm reading David Wojahn's World Tree. I have to say, this book of poems is so fascinating that I am speeding through it and will probably be finished by the end of the week. The poems are odd and fresh and unusual. I also read a bit of a spiritual book each day, and right now it is Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, by Kathleen Norris. These are short chapters each on a word from the Christian faith, such as "Incarnation," "Salvation," and "Silence."

At the library this week I picked up Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua, because I kept hearing about this book. I was excited that my tiny library had a copy! I don't really have time to read it, but I'm reading it anyway. It's ending up having a lot of connections to my class, since we are talking about education right now, and have spent some time exploring what getting a good education means in other countries/to other cultures. I'm also making my way, very slowly, through a book called Teaching Literature, by Elaine Showalter. I believe I started the book this summer and am still not finished. It's a bit dry, but contains some good teaching ideas.

As I type this up, I'm realizing what an odd conglomeration of books I am reading all at the same time. Click here to participate in "It's Monday, What Are You Reading?"

Monday, August 1, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade StudyLast week I participated in the High Summer Read-a-Thon, and I managed to finish two of the three books I had on my TBR list for that. I finished Deeper Reading, by Kelly Gallagher, and The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food, Ben Hewitt. Deeper Reading was full of practical advice and exercises to help students delve deeper into classroom texts. Although it was written with grades 4-12 in mind, I found a lot in the book that I can use in my college classes. The Town That Food Saved was about the local food movement going on in Hardwick, VT. It was an interesting and balanced read. I appreciated how the author simultaneously critiqued and praised the movement.

After finishing those two books I stared The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study. Today, I also started a book called Teaching Literature, by Elaine Showalter.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

TBR Booklist for the Read-a-Thon

Here are the books I'm going to work on next for the High Summer Read-a-Thon.

A Village Life: Poems, Louis Gluck
The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food, Ben Hewitt
Deeper Reading, Kelly Gallagher

And here's a picture of the raspberry jam Lucy and I made this morning!

High Summer Read-a-Thon

The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week)Lucy and I are participating in the High Summer Read-a-Thon today, over at The True Book Addict. You can read anytime throughout the week. I've finished one book already this week, and Lucy has finished two. Today we are planning on spending some more concentrated time reading. (We also spent some time this morning picking raspberries from our yard and making jam!)

The book I finished earlier this week is The Feast Nearby, by Robin Mather. I absolutely loved this book! It's about a food journalist who lost her job and moved to her small vacation cabin in Southwestern Michigan (not too far from where I live). She decided to eat local food as much as possible. The book is full of essays about her first year in the cabin, and how she survived on a very limited budget and mostly local foods. There are also a lot of practical tips in the book about how to can, freeze, and preserve food as well as other food tips, and plenty of recipes. I checked this book out from the library, but I want to own a copy of it!

The books Lucy read this week so far are The Dopple Ganger Chronicles Book 1: The First Escape, by G.P. Taylor and My Teacher Glows in the Dark, by Bruce Coville.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Moving Towards Earth Friendly Living

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.)When my first child was born ten years ago, I started to pay more attention to environmental issues because I wondered what kind of world my child would be living in as she grew. And once she started eating solid food, I paid a lot more attention to the ingredients in the food that I bought for her then I had to food ingredients when I was shopping simply for myself. While I'd always enjoyed cooking, I began to cook even more from scratch, and I cut way back on the amount of processed foods that I bought. As I read more about eating naturally, I was pleased that doing so also could have a positive effect on the environment.

While having a child spurred me on to these decisions about food, I think having a mother who loved to cook, and who insisted on family dinners most every night of the week ingrained this sense of healthy eating in me from an early age. Despite working outside of the house for much of my childhood, my mother cooked healthy meals from scratch nearly every night of the week. And frequently in large amounts: My friends often wanted to eat at my house, since their parents didn't do much cooking.

For years I enjoyed making health meals, and I tried to keep my home low on chemicals by buying eco friendly cleaning products. However, my quest for natural living became more intense after I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver, a few years ago. This book is mainly about Kingsolver's decision to eat only local food and food her family produced themselves for one year. I learned so much from this book about nutrition, growing your own food, eating locally, and sustainable living. Kingsolver's experiment has inspired me to slowly but surely add more sustainable living practices into my life. Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to blog about different sustainable living practices I've added into the way I live, as well as some I'd still like to strive for. In the meantime, here are some more books on the topic that I've enjoyed:

Off the Grid, Nick Rosen
Farm Together Now, Amy Franceschini, Daniel Tucker
Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, Novella Carpenter
Simple Country Wisdom, Susan Waggoner
A Homemade Life, Molly Wizenberg
Real Food, Nina Planck
Made from Scratch, Jenna Woginrich

Monday, July 18, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

SUNDAY: On Sunday I took my daughter to see the new Harry Potter movie, and my mom made dinner that night. Steaks and salmon on the grill, a delicious bread salad, and raspberry chocolate cheesecake for dessert.

MONDAY: I have a lot of leftover veggies from the veggie and dip platter I had for my son's birthday party last week. So tonight I sauteed some veggies and peanuts, added in some peanut sauce and served it over linguine. Delicious! I also had an ear of sweet corn on the side. Local sweet corn is amazing here right now.

TUESDAY: Will be having dinner at a friend's house, so I have no idea what she'll be making.

WEDNESDAY: Pasta salad with lots of veggies (hopefully that will use up the rest of the leftover veggies). I'm considering making homemade bread to go with that, but it's so hot this week, I hate to turn on the oven.

THURSDAY: Salmon. I've been obsessed with a particular salmon recipe lately: you mix brown sugar with plenty of salt and pepper, and cook the salmon in that, which forms a glaze. Then served the cooked salmon with a sauce of maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and dill. It's so good, it's like candy! I may attempt a new salmon recipe this time, though. Maybe more veggies on the side with this, and a bag of coconut rice I discovered at Target. Usually I make my own coconut rice, but I will attempt to cheat this time and see how it goes.

FRIDAY: Out to eat with a fellow poet before a reading that we are performing together.

SATURDAY: I'm not sure what I'll eat yet on Saturday.

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern AmericaI finished reading Blood, Bones, & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, and am still making my way through the other books that were on my list last Monday:

 Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America, Nick Rosen
-Village Life: Poems, Louis Gluck
-Deeper Reading: Comprehending Challenging Texts, Kelly Gallagher
-How to Read the Bible as Literature, Leland Ryken

Also, I've started a book called Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less from Each Other, by Sherry Turkle. I've been on a kick lately of reading books about how technology is effecting our minds and our relationships, and have also been reading books about why reading is important. Here are some of my favorites on these 2 topics, which are interrelated:

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, Alan Jacobs
The Lost Art of Reading, David Ulin
The Shallows, Nicholas Carr
The Winter of Our Disconnect, Susan Maushart

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Local Library Reading Challenge

This year I've been participating in a Local Library Reading Challenge. My goal was to read at least 12 books this year from my local library, and I just added book number 13 to the list! Now I'll see if I can get up to 20. Last year I attempted to read 100 books for a reading challenge, and I failed so miserably that I decided to attempt a more reasonable goal this year.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

If you like to plan your meals for the week ahead of time, like I do, you might find Meal Plan Monday fun to participate in.

Monday: Hamburgers on small buns, homemade fries, fresh local sweet cherries. I find the kids are more likely to eat little food, so I'm hoping small buns will get them excited about hamburgers. I buy all my hamburger from a local meat shop, that sells only local, grass fed meats. It's a great place! The buns are from Labriola, a great Chicago area bakery.

Tuesday: Leftover hamburgers and fries, with whatever local produce I've got left. Probably more cherries, and blueberries.

Wednesday: Hot dogs and fruit. Applegate Farms has some delicious, all-natural hot dogs that I buy on occasion. For awhile I was making my own ketchup to go with hot dogs, hamburgers, etc., but I found I wasn't able to use it up in time, before it went bad. So I'm back to story-bought ketchup.

Thursday: Sandwiches, fruit, and cake for my son's fifth birthday party.

Friday: Chicken and stuffing casserole, brown sugar carrots, broccoli. The chicken is from the local meat shop again!

Saturday: Leftover chicken and stuffing casserole.

Sunday: Eating at my parent's house after taking my daughter to the latest Harry Potter movie.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant ChefHere are the books I'm working on reading right now. I always have several books going at the same time, usually of different genres. The last two books on my list right now are in preparation for teaching my college classes this fall.

-Blood, Bones, & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, Gabrielle Hamilton
-Off Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America, Nick Rosen
-Village Life: Poems, Louis Gluck
-Deeper Reading: Comprehending Challenging Texts, Kelly Gallagher
-How to Read the Bible as Literature, Leland Ryken.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Edible Michiana

Here's a great new publication about local foods in the area where I live: Edible Michiana. There are "Edible" editions for numerous other communities as well. Check it out!

Friday, July 8, 2011

My First Book of Poetry

Recently my first book of poems won the Powder Horn Prize at Sage Hill Press. My book is titled The Eyes the Window, and it will be coming out later this year. You can read a few sample poems from the book at these journals/magazines:

"The Mind's Eye," at The Christian Century
"The Seven Days," at Perihelion
"Collapse" at Red Lion Square

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Next: A NovelSince I'm now on summer break from my college teaching job (well, at least one of my college teaching jobs!), I'm reading a lot again. And not just books that I need to teach. About an hour ago I finished reading The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale, by Susan Maushart. While the conclusions the author came to about technology use in this book weren't particularly a surprise to me, I found Mausharet's writing style funny and engaging. Altogether an enjoyable read.

Now I have to decide what to read next! I've composed a very large TBR list for the summer. Too large to get through, I'm sure. But the next two books I'm thinking of reading were books I picked up at the library: The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr, and a novel titled Next, by James Hynes. I've had The Shallows in mind to read for quite awhile now, but I check out the novel because I liked the cover. In my experience, sometimes you actually can tell a book by its cover. I'll let you know if it works out this time.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hours 9 Through 12

I finished reading I Am Hutterite, by Mary-Ann Kirkby, and also started The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College. Then I was out for awhile having dinner with some friends. I'll see how late I end up staying up tonight to read!

Hours 7 and 8

During hours 7 and 8 I graded 2 more tests, finished Peter Campion's book of poetry, The Lions, and read 20 pages of I Am Hutterite, by Mary-Ann Kirkby. Then I took a long walk because we're finally getting some warm spring weather here today!

Hours 5 and 6

Love's Immensity: Mystics on the Endless LifeDuring hours 5 and 6 I graded 4 tests and finished reading the book Love's Immensity, by Scott Cairns. Love's Immensity is a collection of prayers and spiritual writings from early church fathers that the poet Scott Cairns has adapted and translated. I think I started this book about a year ago, and I read through the prayers and writings slowly over the course of the year. I read about 30 pages today to finish up the book.

I also read a few pages in Peter Campion's book of poetry, The Lions. That's another book I started awhile ago, but I stalled with this one and plan to finish it up in the next hour. I have 18 more student tests to go as well.

Hour 5 - My Goals for the Read-a-Thon

My goals in the next 19 hours are to finish 4 books that I've started:
The Lions, by Peter Campion (poetry)
In a Beautiful Country, by Kevin Prufer (poetry)
Love's Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life, adapted and translated by Scott Cairns
I Am Hutterite: The fascinating true story of a young woman's journey to reclaim her heritage, by Mary-Ann Kirkby

And here are some new books I'd like to read:
Little Bee, Chris Cleave (novel)
The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of Premier College, Jacques Steinberg
Tinkers, Paul Harding (novel)
The Shadow of Sirius, W.S. Merwin (poetry)
What the Best College Teachers Do, Ken Bain
Why Read?, Mark Edmundson

I also need to read 22 student essay tests for my class. Not exactly a book, but reading nonetheless!

Hours 1 Through 4

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every ChildThough I technically missed hours 1 through 4 of Dewey's Read-a-Thon, I did wake up this morning and finish 2 books that I had started earlier this week. The first one was The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child, by Donalyn Miller. This book is written by a 6th grade teacher, and it focuses on teaching elementary age children to love reading. However, I've found some things in it that I want to use in my college classes as well. I especially love that Miller creates time for students to read for pleasure during classroom hours, and that she lets them pick their own books. She also talks about reading aloud to students, and modeling a reading life. These last two things I've done with my own children, and my daughter (age 10) is a voracious reader herself, and my 4 year old loves to be read aloud to and is making the first steps towards learning to read himself. I've always felt that the fact that I create time and space for my children to read, that I model reading behavior for them, and that I surround them with books, has helped ignite their interest in reading. I'm excited to find a book that confirms my thoughts about reading, and is showing me how to bring these techniques into a classroom setting! I think teachers of any grade, and parents can all benefit from this book.

The other book I finished reading this morning is A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis. This is a book I needed to read for the class I'm teaching. My class is discussing the book next Thursday as part of our "Life and Death" unit.

24 Hour Read-a-Thon

Today is Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. This is something I've wanted to participate in ever since I found out about it last year, but unfortunately I forgot about it until right now, when it's about to go into hour 5. So if I start now, not only would I be starting late, I'd also have to take a break this evening to meet some friends for dinner -- an event I planned earlier in the week.

Since I REALLY want to participate in this, I'm going to adapt it a bit so that I'm able to participate as much as I am able. So here goes. To start off, Dewey asks us to answer the following questions:

1) Where are you reading from today? Southwestern, Michigan

2) Three random facts about me… I just started teaching college this year, I used to homeschool my kids, and I live just a couple blocks from a lovely Lake Michigan beach.

3) How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? I've got some books I'm in the middle of that I'd like to finish, and them some other books that I'd like to read.

4) Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? I'm still thinking about my goals. I'll post those in the next post.

5) If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time? This is my first time.

Monday, February 28, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

703: How I Lost More Than a Quarter Ton and Gained a Life1. Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs, Edited by John Bowe, Marisa Bowe, and Sabin Streeter
2. On Christian Liberty, Martin Luther
3. 703: How I Lost More Than a Quarter Ton and Gained Life, Nancy Makin

The first two books I'm reading for a college class that I'm teaching. The third book is a random memoir that I picked up on the new book shelf at the library last week. The fact that I'm reading a book for fun means that I am currently on spring break and have some time to do that!

Before reading the Martin Luther book, I watched the movie Luther, which gives a great overview of Martin Luther's life and has some pretty decent acting. Watch out for a few cheesy scenes, though.

Check out It's Monday, What Are You Reading? at Book Journey.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

To 10 Books of 2010

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table
Here are my top 10 favorite books that I read in 2010, for the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. These are in no particular order. I think my very favorite book of the year was A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg. This book contains essays about food and family, and each essay comes with a recipe. The writing was fabulous, and I'm a bit obsessed with food and recipes, so I really enjoyed this book! And doesn't it have a gorgeous cover?

1. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home, Rhoda Janzen
2. A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes From My Kitchen Table, Molly Wizenberg
3. My Life in France, Julia Child, with Alex Prud'homme
4. Iodine, Haven Kimmel
5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, May Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
6. The Fortieth Day, Poems by Kazim Ali
7. Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet, Christian Wiman
8. Still Life with Oysters and Lemon, Mark Doty
9.  Leaping Poetry, Robert Bly
10. Possession, A.S. Byatt

2011 Book Challenge

The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone)Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the TaleFor 2010 I joined a book challenge to read 100 books for the year, and only made it to 36. It was one of my lowest years ever for number of books read, due to major life changes and a return to the workplace. My daughter, however, read more than 100 books for this challenge. This year I'm going to sign up for a challenge that looks more doable. Home Girl's Book Blog is having a Support Your Local Library challenge. I can decide to read 12, 25, 15 or 100 books from my local library during 2011. I think I should pick 12, what do you think? I can always read more than that if I'm able, and then I'll feel really good about myself! I'll be keeping a list of the library books I've read in this post, below.

1. The Last Time I Saw You, Elizabeth Berg. A typical Elizabeth Berg book -- light reading, but relatively well-written and with a story that carries you along. This one follows several characters who are about to attend their last high school reunion.
2. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender. This book is about a girl who can taste people's emotions in the food that they make. A fascinating, unusual book that flirts at the edges of science fiction in the form of the main character's brother, who also has some "special" powers.
3. Addition, Toni Jordan. Another surprising and unusual book, like nothing I've ever read before. I look for that in books! This follows a chapter in the life of a woman who suffers from OCD. Her particular form of OCD leads her to count everything that she does. Her life has become very narrow and lonely because of her disorder, but she encounters some unlikely turns of event.
4. 703: How I Lost More Than a Quarter Ton and Gained a Life, Nancy Makin. This memoir is so poorly written, that I wouldn't have finished it except that the story kept me going along. It's an interesting story, I just wish it had been written better. Also, watch out for long preachy passages musing on what she's learned about her experiences.
5. Room, Emma Donoghue.
6. Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls, Leonard Sax
7. The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, Ree Drummond
8. The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Reader in Every Child, Donalyn Miller
9. I Am Hutterite: The fascinating true story of a young woman's journey to reclaim her heritage, Mary-Ann Kirkby
10. Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant, Daniel Tammett
11. The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale, Susan Maushart
12. Lost and Found, Geneen Roth
13. Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, Gabrielle Hamilton
14. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua
15. Growing Up Amish, Ira Wagler
16. State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
17. The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides
18. The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson
19. The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach