I just upgraded to the newest Word Press (2) for the iPhone. I’m not sure what the advantages are to the older one.
I just finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
The Help is the story of three women (one white and two black) who write a book about the relationship between black women working as maids and their white families. The Help is set in Mississippi in the 1960s. Throughout the book there are many stories, most told from the view point of the maids that are interviewed for the book. Their stories are both awful and horrible and touching and sweet.
And although this book did feel a bit lengthy (although I can never tell just how long because I read it on my iPhone) I wouldn’t have removed any bit of it. I really enjoyed reading this book and I was sad when it ended.
The characters in the novel seem so well developed. I felt like I knew them all. As I read along, I found myself getting angry and laughing and crying.
I hope I can word this right so that it makes sense, but I thought it was also very interesting that this book was about the process of the three women writing the book as opposed to just having the book be the book (that was written by the three women). By exploring the process of writing and publishing the book and how that affected everyone and in some way or another changes the entire town, I thought that you just learned a lot more about the people involved and the situation. It made me care more for them.
I felt a particular connection to this book because my grandmother grew up in the south and when she married and moved to Maryland and had children, her parents sent up a live-in black woman to help raise the kids, Mary. Mary stayed with my grandparents for many years, raising my dad and his two siblings and stayed long past that (I believe she was there at least 10 years after the children left the house). I knew Mary. I remember her coming to some of my elementary school plays. Mary always felt like part of the family.
I should say that have guilt about even talking about this. Is it okay to talk about this? I do have strong affection when I think back about her. Today, the oddity of having a girl sent up from the south is weird in my thinking – I think probably it would be weird and wrong in anyone’s thinking now-a-days. But that is just what happened and as a kid hearing about it, it didn’t seem odd at all. This was my great grandparents did for my grandparents and their children. And even today this action had an affect on me because I knew Mary. She worked for our family. And after reading this book, I’ve been missing her some and thinking about her.
What would have Mary’s life been if she was not raising my dad and his siblings? I don’t know. Was she even paid well for her services? Was living with my grandparents the best scenario for her? The worst? I guessing from reading this book, it was a mixed bag. Probably horrible things happened and wonderful things happened and a lot of in between. I’d like to think the relationship between by grandparents and Mary was more pleasant then most of the relationships in the book… but I honestly don’t know. My dad grew up 20 years before the time period that this book was written about. But he was in the north (or more north then Mississippi at least).
My husband and I had a wonderfully fun Halloween game idea that I thought I would share with you. Are you ready for it? Bobbing for Liquor. As an alternative title, we have also been calling the activity Bobbing for Booze.
This game is just like the old fashioned game of bobbing for apples, except instead of using apples, you use small liquor bottles.
For this last Halloween, we had some friends over and tried out this fabulous idea, and I’m happy to report it went rather well.
We filled a Beverage Tub (ours came from Target) with water and placed 12 mini liquor bottles in it – the kind that you get on an airplane. Most floated (we went with plastic liquor bottles) but some sunk. We got bottles of every kind of liquor. Most costing about $2 a bottle. We placed the tub on our kitchen table with towels under it and beside it (for people to wipe their faces). Every guest tried it and some went back for seconds (and thirds).
One guest recommended that you had to drink the bottle that you got, and everyone followed suit with that. I had shot glasses and ice available that people used with their mini bottles to drink them. Most people drank their drinks straight or on the rocks without adding any additional mixers (like Coke or Orange Juice). But I got Southern Comfort (bleh) and have trying a couple mini baby sips, I had to mix it with Coke. Southern Comfort and Coke wasn’t bad.
The bobbing game was such a hit, that friends who attended our gathering were going to Bob for Liquor at a gathering that they were going to the next night. As for my husband and I, for the next Halloween we will surely repeat it.
At the gathering, we thought of some variations for the next time we try bobbing.
- We could Bob in beer, instead of water.
- For New Years, we could bob for mini champagne bottles. Do they have those?
- Instead of just having 12 bottles, we would completely fill the tub with bottles. How about 50 or 100 instead of 12?
- We could add some more expensive mini bottles of liquor.
- We could add more non-floaters – most likely these would be glass bottles. If they were of high quality (like a $7 glass bottle of Patron) maybe there would be some action for people diving for it.
- Someone suggested bobbing in eggnog for Christmas… but ewww.
As a side note, we had one younger guest (who is just three years old) over and for her in a separate tub we set up apples so that she could also bob for apples. Bobbing for apples was also a big hit. Why don’t kids do this any more? I don’t know if she was getting the apples honestly every time, but our little apple bobber want for the apples again and again. A three year old with an apple in her mouth is just so gosh darn cute.
Another great find from hrrrthrrr.
Give a child a marshmallow. Tell them if they wait and don’t eat it, they can have another – two total. Or if they want to, they can eat the one but then get no extra. Put a video camera on them. This video made me smile. you must go see it.
I found on hrrrthrrr today, this great Steve Jobs quote.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
- Steve Jobs
Last week I finished reading the mystery novel
by Sandra Brown
So I thought that I would share my comments on it.
(Sandra also wrote Slow Heat in Heaven which I wrote about back in July.)
To my surprise, I really enjoyed this book. It was intelligent and the characters were believable. And the “passion” scenes were very good.
The story has to do with a publishing editor and her journey to track down the author of a partial manuscript that was sent to her. Of course there are a ton of details in this book, but I feel like if I mention any more of them here, I may be spoiling the book for you.
So I’ll just say, If you are looking for a light weekend read you should consider Envy. I wouldn’t call it great classic literature, but it is fun and sometimes with reading that is just what you need.
My husband and I were fortunate enough to see a talented ukulele player in concert last night, Victoria Vox. I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t just love her music. She sings beautifully. On her web site, if you have flash enabled, you can can listen to a number of her songs. I am no expert on her music, but my favorite songs so far are Christmas With You, Ukulele Lady and Peeping Tomette.
So here is what I’m working with for the fireplace.
I think I want a white painted fireplace mantel/surround with some type of tile – maybe not as artist as the one I mentioned in the last blog entry.
I like this picture a lot, for the wood and the tile.
(Photo Source: This Old House)
I found it on the This Old House web site.
There are just SO MANY options.
I don’t want the mantel to be marble, brick, stone or stained wood.
As far as wood patterns go….
I don’t like dentil or egg-and-dart molding.
I’m not crazy about coin or fluted either.
Rope would be okay but not my first choice.
(Photos Source: Inviting Home)
I want a fairly substantial shelf. I don’t like mantels which are just white trim – that look is just too modern and boring for me.
Sorry, I didn’t document where I found the above photo. I’m sure in some houses that trim fits right in but for me I just wouldn’t like it.
I think what appeals to me are paneled designs. For example, I really like what is shown on this book cover, Constructing a Fireplace Mantel: Step-by-Step from Plywood And Stock Moldings (Schiffer Book for Woodworkers) (Paperback)
by Steve Penberthy. If it was painted white, I would think we have something. I would like to see a full photo of this mantel. Maybe I should buy this book?
(Book Photo Source: Amazon)
Of course, like the bookshelves, the windows may cause an issue. I cannot tell you how many times that I have cursed the builder out the the windows aren’t evenly spaced on the wall AND the fireplace isn’t centered between the windows. A mantel may make the problem look worse. I don’t know.
In addition to looking for solutions to adding in built-in bookcases, I would like to surround our fireplace downstairs with prettier tile and a mantel. I have been on the hunt for great options.
While, looking around for solutions for me, I ran across an AMAZING mosaic artist – Susan Jablon Mosaics – that I had to share with you. Check out this beautiful fireplace. It is a bit too much for what I am looking for but wow – what a great style.
(Photo Source: Susan Jablon Mosaics)
If you have any extra time at all, you must look through her mosaic gallery. I just love all the colors.
My husband makes an amazing banana bread. I am enjoying a piece this morning with some coffee. Mmmmm.
For those who would like it, here is his recipe.
3 or 4 smashed bananas (ripe)
1/3 cup melterd butter
1 cup sugar
1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teasppon of baking soda
Pinch of Salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, with a spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas.
- Mix in the sugar, egg and vanilla.
- Then mix in the salt and baking soda.
- Add the flour last.
- Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan.
- Bake for an hour.
- Cool on a rack.
- Slice to serve.
My husband and I have a number of ukuleles and usually 4 to 6 of them where sitting on the dining room floor propped up against the wall. And honestly – even though it was a little unsightly – we liked them there because it gave us the oppertunity to quickly and easily play them when we walked by.
But recently we decided to implement a more polished solution into the dining room for the ukuleles. We hung up four ukulele hooks (two on either side of the bar) to proudly display four of our ukuleles. These hooks came from the music store and look great and were easy to hang.
Then our other ukuleles (which I believe is at least four or five others now) moved downstairs. When we work out the bookshelf solution downstairs, we will include display of the other ukulele in there.
I’m happy to say that the new hooks look great. And both my husband and I are glad to have the ukuleles displayed where they look great and we can easily play them.
A week or so ago I finished reading Moose – A Memoir of Fat Camp by Stephanie Klein. This book is autobiographical – you know I love those – and tells the story of Stephanie struggling with her weight and self image from the time she was a young 8-year-old to present day.
I liked most of this book.
I liked best when the author talked about being an 8-year-old and going to a nutritionist, and then later 4 summers of fat camp. I wasn’t a small kid myself, so much of what Stephanie describes (from her childhood) reminds me of similar experiences that happened in my life.
I too went to a nutritionist. Which by the way is an incredibly weird thing to do to a kid. I didn’t have any control as to what food was in my house or what food was bought for dinner.
Also like the author, one summer I went to fat camp as well. Which for me was just as weird and filled with mixed emotions as Stephanie explains it in her book. One part I specifically remember from my experiences there that almost paralleled hers was the weirdness about weight at fat camp. In some ways it was freeing because everyone was fat. But in other ways your aren’t cool enough for some people because you aren’t fat enough. (Really – people taunting “Are you here to gain weight?” really happened to me.) And then you aren’t cool enough for others because you aren’t thin enough. (Because the thinnest of the fat kids were somehow the bosses.) Kids – particularly ones that you restrict food from – will always find something to harp on. It is sad really.
In Stephanie’s book, I also liked the part where she talks about returning to fat camp as a counselor later in life (I did not do this BTW) but that she was not really in the right mind to help impressionable young kids. When I was at fat camp as a child, I wondered about that too – who were these large “adults” telling me what to eat and what not to? What did they know? I guess the answer is they were just people struggling too.
The part of the book that I wasn’t as crazy about was towards the end when Stephanie gets to talking about where she is now in life – having two new babies (twins) and wishing to not give them the wrong impressions about food or weight. I found the later (current) part of the book is kind of sad. Weight has always been a constant struggle for the author. Is doesn’t seem like she really ever learned to love herself or just be okay with the way she looks.
As a side note… (I’m not saying I have all the answers.) But for me I think I just realized one day that you can spend your time and energy worrying and fighting the way your body is naturally meant to me, or you can just not do that. And it is okay. People will still love you. And you will still function. You will still be able to find clothing and have a job and live your life. And if people laugh or are mean – then so be it. You cannot let it get to you. People with their own insecurities want to make other people feel bad about themselves. It is human nature. So you don’t live a life of constant sadness, you just need to let it roll of you.
But anyhow, overall I would say that the book was refreshingly honest and funny and I’m glad I read it.
One time Daisy had a really bad /damaged toe nail that was split from the tip of it back to the paw. This accident happened at a local dog park last year. We don’t know if she had caught the toe nail on something or someone (there were a lot of kids there that day) stepped on it. But that night and the next day, all she did was hold her paw up and limp around everywhere. It was so sad to see.
We brought her to the vet so they could check it out. The vet said that the nail had to be cut back all the way to have it heal properly. And to do this, that they would need to put her lightly under. So they did put her under and did trim her toe nail, and we brought home one very sleepy puppy with one very trimmed nail. My husband and I believe that it was this experience that turned Daisy very against any nail trimming experience.
Before this event, she would allow – begrudgingly – groomers to trim her nails. One of us would have to hold her while the groomer cut but it was possible to trim her nails.
Afterwards, for all nail cutting events, Daisy would fight every time. On a typical appointment, myself or my husband would attempt to hold Daisy, and the groomer would trim as many nails as they could. And Daisy would fight and fight and fight, until we were all just so frustrated and tired that we gave up.
Awhile back, in an attempt to fix this situation, we bought the PediPaws. PediPaws is a nail grinder that grinds off dogs nails. The tool is just like a dremel tool except it has a protective guard over the sander bit to help prevent you from grinding the nail too far. The PediPaws is an alternative to regular dog nail clipping, and I had seen it advertised on TV, so I thought what the heck.
Unfortunately, after we bought the PediPaws, both my husband and I were too chicken to use it. We didn’t want to hurt Daisy. And she fought so much with the professionals, we didn’t want to make a fool of ourselves. So Daisy’s nails continued to get trimmed unevenly – one here and one there when a groomer could get them. And the PediPaws lived in a drawer for a few months.
But I’m happy to say that the toe nail nightmare – and all the toe nail clicking on the kitchen floor – has appeared to have ended.
(As you know, if you know me (which you probably do if you are reading this blog), Daisy has been in training lately with a local trainer that comes to our house. This training is primarily to combat her Dog Aggression tendencies (to some dogs sometimes, she can be a real meanie when she wants to be). Thankfully after 3 visits from the trainer, we have seen a world of difference in her behavior. She is a much better leash walker then she ever was and she doesn’t run out the door when we open it. And now when she shows aggression, we are much better able to control it. We still have some to go with the aggression training, but all signs look hopeful.)
Last Tuesday, our dog trainer showed us how to condition Daisy to the PediPaws, so that we could trim her toe nails with it without a big struggle every time. The process involved treats, verbal correction for struggling, and approaching her gradually over time with the tool.
The first time, we were just touching her toes with our fingers (and saying the word “touch”) with the PediPaws (on and buzzing) nearby. And giving lots of praise when she let us touch her toe nails. And any struggle from her, we verbally corrected.
(The way that our trainer uses verbal correction is by making a quick sharp noise that mimics a growl. Through the training, Daisy has already been taught that this noise means “quit it”. It has been a miracle noise.)
Then for the next time, with a great treat in sight (we have these little dog chewies that she just loves), we touched her toes with the PediPaw (off) and us saying the word “touch” and we gave lots of praise. When a couple toes we touched without struggle, the treat was given. Again, verbal corrections used when needed.
Then, with verbal corrections still used when needed, onto touching her little toes with the PediPaw (on and buzzing). This time, not necessarily “using” the PediPaw, just touching it too her. When one paw was touched (with the word touch) the treat was given.
The above conditioning steps are to get Daisy not scared of the sight of the PediPaw. And instead, for her to associate it with treats.
Next on actually trimming a (just one) toe nail with the PediPaw. Verbal corrections, “touch” word, and delicious treat (with lots of praise when she let me do it) still in play.
Once she let me trim one toenail that way, the next time I trimmed a couple toe nails.
And then next time 3 toe nails.
Then 10 next time. Etc. Each time with less struggle for her. Just praise and treats from us.
And then on Saturday – by some miracle and great perseverance – Daisy let me buzz all her toe nails. Although I held her down when I was doing it, this time she needed very little verbal correction. She mostly just stayed put. As a result, I wouldn’t say that all the toe nails were trimmed as much as they needed to be, but it was still a strong victory for us as at least all the toe nails were touched by the PediPaw.
On Sunday, I buzzed a few toe nails some more, to clean them up a bit. I think I only verbally corrected her once that day.
And last night I buzzed 4 toe nails that were a still a bit long, and Daisy didn’t fight it at all. She just laid where she was laying when I started and let me do it.
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