some facts

:: The Honeycrisps at Costco may be too big to fit in my produce drawer.
:: I have two consecutive days off this week, and I love it.
:: I'm wearing a t-shirt with giant shears on them, courtesy of Michelle.

:: I like my chocolate chip cookies warm and chewy, and I like them with plenty of chocolate chips.


ending a weekend

To lie or to lay? That is the question. One's grammatical reputation rests on this choice: when to lay and when to lie.

That's what my cocoa mug says. Josh's mug contains an explanation of pronouns. (Sometimes, though, I want the pronoun mug.) I'm sitting with my feet propped up in an apartment that is full of unfolded laundry, dirty cereal bowls, and folders of Primary lesson helps on the floor. I have half-finished knitting projects sitting on the kitchen table and one of two IKEA nightstands put together.And I'm thinking about the weekend I've had.

Yesterday was my first Saturday off work since November (excepting our trip to Colorado), and it was lovely. We went to the Living Room Theaters downtown, where you order lunch before the movie and they bring you your meal in the theater: The Adventures of Tin-Tin, big comfy chairs, deep cup holders, and a cheese-pesto panini--delightful. Then I spent a few minutes in Powell's stocking up on books to get me started on my 2012 reading. Right now, though, I'm rereading another favorite, These Is My Words, and I'm falling in love with it all over again. We had waffles for dinner and spent the whole evening in stretchy pants.

So it was a pretty good weekend. And we've had a pretty good weekend end, what with our grammar-conscious cocoa and everything. Instead of worrying about the mess and unfinished projects, I'm going to lie down on the couch after laying my computer on the floor.


a day for chili

This week the weather has looked a lot like this.

I wish my little point-and-shoot camera could convey the heavy, steady fall of rain and the frequent swooshes of wind that have accompanied this wet and wintry week. This is the weather that begs for stretchy pants, hot chocolate, and a good book. So yesterday after walking in after work, I decided that homemade chili was the perfect meal for a wet and stormy night.

I found my favorite chili recipe this past fall in this magazine. It's seriously the best chili recipe I've ever encountered. It calls for real chili peppers that you process to make your own chili powder. Real chili peppers, people. This recipe is so legit. The chili powder smells enticingly exotic yet still carries that comfort food vibe. It's magical.

And then, if you can imagine that this chili can get any better, you use blade steak for the meat instead of ground beef. (Making this recipe is a bit of a financial investment depending on the steak you spring for, but trust me, it's a culinary splurge worth indulging in.) I would have taken some pictures of the final product except that by the time it was ready we were so hungry and so ready for some stretchy pants that I skipped the final picture all together. Just know that it was delicious and that the leftovers won't last through the weekend.

To top off the night, do you think that there would be a better dessert than Diet Delight? (Sugar-free Jello pudding with a few dollops of light Cool Whip mixed in, more Cool Whip on top, and mini chocolate chips--delightful.) No one knows how to do winter rain like the Wilsons, people.

PS I know I need to update my blog banner, because I do know that it's now 2012. Cut me a break, though. I'm still in stretchy pants.


OSR: December 2011, and a reading recap

So here's the thing: I read one book in all of December. And I read half of it on the plane to Colorado two days before Christmas. I had started reading a Fitzgerald book and couldn't bring myself to keep reading it because I was so bored. This book that I did finish, though, was simple, enjoyable, and easy.

The Hollow (Hercule Poirot #25)The Hollow by Agatha Christie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was another straightforward mystery that had enough intrigue to keep me guessing and enough simplicity to not frustrate. this was perfect reading for the end of the year when I'm low on time and patience.

View all my reviews

And now, here's a recap of my 2011 reading, arranged in order of ratings.

Five-star books:
Peace Like a River, Leif Enger
The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay
The Help, Kathryn Stockett
Rocket Boys, Homer H. Hickam, Jr.
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Four-star books:
Jacob T. Marley, William R. Bennett
The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
Shanghai Girls, Lisa See
Little Bee, Chris Cleave
Summers at Castle Auburn, Sharon Shinn
Tallgrass, Sandra Dallas
Eve and the Choice Made in Eden, Beverly Campbell
What's Up Down There?: Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend, Lissa Rankin
Bossypants, Tina Fey
So Brave, Young, and Handsome, Leif Enger
The Goose Girl, Shannon Hale
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Steig Larssson
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Steig Larsson
The Other Side of the Bridge, Mary Lawson
Princess Academy, Shannon Hale
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
The Star Garden: A Novel of Sarah Agnes Prine, Nancy E. Turner
The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
Dracula, Bram Stoker

Three-star books:
The Hollow, Agatha Christie
Slathbog's Gold, M. L. Forman
Moloka'i, Alan Brennert
Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food, Jan Chozen Bays
Unbearable Lightness, Portia De Rossi
The Bride's House, Sandra Dallas
Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
I Still Dream about You, Fannie Flagg
How I Planned Your Wedding, Susan Wiggs
The Girl Who Played with Fire, Steig Larsson
Sarah's Key, Tatiana de Rosnay

Two-star books:
The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman
Boneshaker, Cherie Priest
The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards

One-star books:
The Magicians, Lev Grossman

Other stats:
:: Of my six five-star books, four of them (66 percent) were rereads.
:: Those four books were my only rereads of the year.
:: I read eight nonfiction books, including memoirs (almost 20 percent of my 2011 books).
:: Three of my books were young-adult novels (7 percent).
:: I read five historical fiction books (12 percent).
:: Four of my books were mysteries (almost 10 percent)
:: I completely hated only one book (2 percent)
:: I read seven books in May, the most books I read in a single month in 2011 (17 percent).
:: I categorized eight books as favorites, new reads and rereads included (almost 20 percent).

It was a good reading year for me, even if I didn't make my revised goal of 45 books. When making my 2012 reading goals I toned it down a bit. Without a commute, my reading time has decreased, so I'm shooting for 35 books this year. I'm already one down!

What are your reading goals for 2012?


why I didn't go to church

I have the mother of all colds. This cold has lasted four weeks, people. That's a whole month.

I've spent my entire day either on the couch or in my bed watching episodes of Gilmore Girls, Parks and Recreation, White Collar, and Downton Abbey while alternating among knitting, resting, and blowing my nose over and over. This setup really isn't so bad except that I feel awful.

I couldn't even enjoy my chicken noodle soup for lunch because I can't taste a single thing. Even Eggo waffles.

Here's to a more taste-filled and less phlegm-congested day tomorrow. And let's keep the TV and knitting, please.


a new year's cake

I have a hard time with the new year. Remember that feeling we had as kids the day after Christmas? The feeling that said that all the fun is over? That's how I feel about January. January is the month where the miles separating my family and me are more acute and palpable, the month that lends itself most to loneliness.

Wednesday I took down my Christmas decorations with some Gilmore Girls on in the background. The day was gray, and I was fighting against the this-time-last-week game (you know, the masochistic game that tells you that last week at this time you were having a ball and now you're not). Then I had an idea: bake a cake. Bake a cake for the new year.

So after I packed away the tree, ornaments, and wreath, I pulled out the eggs, milk, flour, and cake pans. With another episode of Gilmore Girls on the TV, I baked a cake that turned out wonderfully. I tried a new chocolate frosting recipe and displayed the cake in a pretty cake dome.

I loved offsetting something that makes me blue with something delicious, sweet, and mildly decadent. I call it a new year's cake, and even though it's something small, it made me feel a less little sad about this oh-so-hard month.
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