September 29, 2011

Moscato and a Book Review

After a dinner of: creamy mushroom chicken. roasted red potatoes w/ rosemary, corn on the cob, and Jasmine rice; I sat down to enjoy a great book with a glass of Moscato. It was light and tasty. Sweet but not overly so. Very refreshing with a citrus taste to it. From what I've read, Moscato is a dessert wine. I enjoyed it by itself.

 What was I reading? The first volume of Vampire Diaries by L. J. Smith. Leon and I have been having fun watching the tv series, so I picked up the book from the library. It has a lot of similarities to the Twilight Saga, though it was published in 1991 and the first Twilight book was published in 2005. I love the writing style. It's easy to read and not too melodramatic. It is also VERY different from the television show.

The series follows Elena (in the book she's a gorgeous blonde). She falls hopelessly and helplessly in love with the good-hearted, self-loathing vampire, Stefan. Doomed from the start, they face one complication after the next. Enter Damon, the confident, cool, Rhett Butler-like dark hero you can't help but love. Now both vampires are in love with Elena and are self-sworn to her protection. Although, Damon (being the darker of the two) wouldn't mind Elena joining him for eternity, a beautiful companion to heal him of his loneliness.

I finished this volume. I went to get the next volume and it is checked out. I HATE when that happens!  I'm so tempted to go ahead and purchase a digital copy, but I'll attempt to delay satisfaction until whoever-has-my-book checks it back in. I just hope they do it soon.

I compared the book to the Twilight series. They both have a love triangle with a human girl loving a vampire. The human admits she has an attraction to both her suitors. She's willing to die, even become a monster herself to protect the ones she loves.

Now, I have only read the first book in this series, but there are many differences. Vampire Diaries is more suspenseful and less predictable. I found it a little darker than Twilight. Elena is an orphan. She's also the town beauty queen. She's been raised in small town Fells Church since birth. All her classmates are lifelong friends. She also does not want to become a vampire. At least so far...

If you liked Twilight, you should definitely check this series out.


September 25, 2011

Sweet Bliss

The name is as it implies. This wine is great. It's not overly sweet, has a great fruity flavor, and finishes off with a hint of chocolate. Oh my! It went incredibly well with vanilla cake and ice cream. The contrasting flavors really set it off.

I might try it as an aperitif as the label suggests. I'll update this post and let you know how it stands alone.

Happy Birthday to Me

On Saturday (my actual birthday) we had a lot going on. Leon had to work. Joshua, Ishmael, and I had a scout fundraiser that morning. Then I had an appt with the girls. So my family planned ahead to celebrate my birthday on Sunday.
Leon woke up before me and cooked everyone breakfast. The coffee cup is a gift from the kids. They also gave me some peanut butter M&M's. My new favorites.

After breakfast, we just sort of hung out around the house. Leon and the boys played video games while Kelsea and I read our books. It was very relaxing. We almost never have mornings together like this. 
Then we took off to Palace Pointe to use Kelsea's gift card that she won at the library. We chose rollerskating. It's so much fun to zip around the rink, playing with the kids, all while moving with the music. Also, way better than sitting in a dark theater not interracting.

I was crusing around the rink and passed my family on the side...taking a break.

Leon made a cake for me again this year. It turned out so pretty! It was moist and delicious too.

I love birthdays. I love being 32. I don't mind getting older even the least little bit. I've experienced so much joy that I would never take any of it back.

Happy birthday to me!

September 24, 2011

Pacific Rim and a Book Review

This is a sparkling sweet Riesling. JacLynn came over for a short visit. We each took a glass to the back porch and chatted away about school, work, and politics. This was really good wine. It was light and crisp. It had a nice round berry flavor and was mildly sweet. The bubbles made it fun. I can't think of anything I'd pair it with. It was perfect all by itself as a treat.

I will definitely be getting this one again. I finished it off while reading our next book club book.

The Memory Keepers Daughter was okay. I found the style of writing to be very droll. Most of the sentences were too verby (new word I made up just for this book). It seemed that almost every sentence had 3 or more verbs. For instance:

"The streets converged, coming together at odd angles, as the city narrowed to the point where the great rivers met, the Monongahela and the Allegheny, their confluence forming the Ohio, which traveled to Kentucky and beyond before it poured itself into the Mississippi and disappeared."


"This had once been a quiet road, cars audible for miles before they came into sight, and usually it was a familiar face behind the windshield, the car slowing, stopping, and a door swinging open to let him in."

I'm finicky about writing style. There is only so much of the above I can take. Don't get me wrong. Such pensive writing can have it's place in every novel. When a particular method  is over used, it makes the book hard for me to read. My eyes start to skim over the redundancy.

Spoiler alert:

The over all plot was okay. I only sort of sympathized with the father in the story. Mostly I was angry with his arrogance at taking something away from his wife because of his own fears. He was a coward. I think it's a good look at how sad a life can be if we don't own up to our bad decisions despite the possible consequences. As for the wife, they laid all the blame of her promiscuity at the hands of her husband for being so distant. She was still in command of her own decisions. I did like that it wasn't just another story with a feel-good happy ending.



Today I let my dear friend stab me in the face. It was fun. How's that for an introduction? It's totally true.

First, let me tell you a few things I've learned about piercings. If someone comes after you with a piercing gun, run. Professional piercings are not done with guns. They are done with hollow needles that slice through skin without damaging the surrounding tissue. Piercing guns do not go into an autoclave machine. Sure they toss the piercing insert, but the gun itself just gets reused as is. Do you really want to chance it?

Stephanie, uses all disposable one-time-use parts (even the clamp went into the trash). No worries about who used the equipment before me. If you are a local friend you need to check out the Love Shack. You'll get amazing talent in a hygienic environment. Body art just doesn't get better than that. Unless you like sharing needles with skanks and crackheads. If so, then the Love Shack is not the place for you.

I've been asked "does it hurt" so many times, that I'll answer it here. Pain is a relative term. I birthed 4 babies. 3 of them were all natural with no drugs. That hurt, but not enough to keep me from doing it again. I have a high tolerance for pain.

First she swabbed my nose inside and out with alcohol. It stung a little and made my eyes water. That wasn't fun. Or maybe it was and I missed it...

See? The clamp, it's not so bad. Nothing really.

Here comes the needle. Feeling lots of pressure. But wait...I can't actually feel the needle.

I kept waiting for it. I even held my breath. I wouldn't have if I'd have known she was only holding my nostril out for a picture. hehe

All of a sudden it was over. I bet only 2 minutes passed from alcohol swabbing to looking in the mirror.

I love it. This whole thing started in Book Club. We were talking about piercings...and really with so much wine on the table I don't even remember how it came up. I think someone (maybe it was me) said they always wanted a nose stud, but between birthin' babies and feeding the man, I just never made time. So we decided to make a date and do it together. That is the best way to get things done.


September 15, 2011

Gnarly Head

Leon surprised me with several bottles of wine for my tasting adventure in honor of my upcoming birthday. I like the Gnarly Head brand and they just released a new red blend, Authentic Red. I've been waiting for the stores to get it in.

I gravitate to the red blends because they are not as strong and have so many flavors going on at once. I enjoy them the most.

Authentic Red: the first thing I taste is the tangy bite of the zinfandel, but it mellows out into a nice spicy berry flavor. 


September 14, 2011

White Oleander

I loved this book! It was such a deep and moving read.

The story follows young Astrid. Her mother goes to prison for murder. She gets strung along in several different foster homes. She learns valuable, yet tragic, lessons at each one. Her life is deprived of anything normal, but she doesn't suffer from self pity. Every time she was knocked flat down, she picked herself up and adapted. She had enough awareness to realize that each change created a new layer to the person she was becoming. The book had me asking, "am I really digging deep enough in my own life?"

I have not seen the movie. I'm debating whether or not I want to muddle such a great story by watching Hollywood's interpretation.


This Week in History

We have been watching PBS's Colonial House on DVD. I remember watching the show when it first aired. We've had some very interesting conversations about taking modern people and sticking them in the 1600's.

Virginia Bound is our current read aloud. I randomly happened upon this book at the library. It was a very good read. It fits our studies so well! I give it a hearty thumbs up if you are studying Colonial history.

We've read through A History of US series before. Currently are reading the 2nd book. I think this time around I'm going to just buy them one at a time. I found this one used at our local homeschool store. They are very well written and fun to read.


September 13, 2011

Unschool Day

I've been thinking a lot about homeschooling philosophies. You see, I don't really hold to any particular style or method of homeschooling.

I've dabbled in Charlotte Mason methods, classical education, traditional methods, and unschooling. I might call myself more eclectic. I most admire the unschoolers. I love how they approach the world and learn from it.  

With me working outside of the home, I have found that we do well with routine and structure. I also like having something measurable to track our school years. For instance, with math I can easily track the concepts they've covered because we use Saxon and it's laid out for me. I don't have to think about it or keep records of what we did.

However, I also believe each of my children dig deeper when they seek information out for themselves. When someone has a specific interest, we go with it.

Today Jeremiah decided to write a book.

Calvin wanted to look at blood and skin cells under the microscope.

Joshua wanted to finish Colonial House.

It was one of those rare days where we explored everyone's interests, and it was enough. 


September 9, 2011

Sometimes The Hippie Inside Me Wants to Bust Loose

I choose many ways to live an organic life:

I believe that it's man's inherent responsibility to protect our earth and it's natural resources.

I work hard to leave as small of a carbon footprint as possible.

I feed my family as naturally as I can, we rarely eat out.

Most importantly, I celebrate life and stand up for what I believe in.

What spurred on this sudden introspective post? In a couple of weeks I will be wearing "hippie" on my face. Tammy and I are going in for nose piercings. I am so excited! My dear friend Stephanie of the Love Shack is, of course, the only person I trust to stab me in the face without giving me hepatitis...or worse

Pictures will come, I promise.

So what's next you ask? Dreadlocks? Patchouli? One can never tell when or where the inner hippie will stop, once you set her free...


September 7, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie and Apothic Red

This is one of my favorite cheat meals. The ingredients are simple. It's my cheat meal because I used canned cream of chicken soup. If I weren't already balancing work, homeschool, and life in general, I'd take the time to make gravy for this dish. It's much better that way. As it is, we cut corners where we can. My family still loves this dish...even when I cheat.

This only takes me about 15 minutes to prepare. While the chicken is boiling I'm mixing the rest of the ingredients up. By using frozen chicken tenders,  I don't even have to cut the chicken into pieces. I just toss them in after they are done. It's also an easy way to pack a bunch of veggies into one meal.

Chicken Pot Pie Ingredients:

Chicken, cooked (I boiled 10 chicken tenders)
1 26oz can Cream of Chicken Soup
4 cups frozen mixed veggies
I season mine with garlic and Mrs. Dash (Certain people in my house are cutting back on sodium.)

Mix ingredients in a large bowl.

Crust: You can use a standard pie crust. Sometimes I cheat and buy frozen. Lately I've been making biscuits and baking them on top.

Biscuit Crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 cup milk

Mix the dry ingredients then cut in the butter until it looks like cornmeal.Slowly add in milk.

Roll dough out to 1inch thickness and cut into rounds. The kids like to use the leftover dough to make "baby biscuits". Waste not, want not.

Bake at 350deg until golden and bubbly.

Tonight I served it with Basmati rice and salad. 

The wine you see, Apothic Red, is my absolute favorite so far. My friend, Errin, turned me on to it at a recent book club meeting. The bottle says its a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, and Merlot with hints of vanilla and mocha. It's in the $10 price range that I tend to shop for. The flavor is intense but shockingly smooth.

Apparently this bottle is very popular. My local grocery store was completely sold out. I couldn't find it anywhere else. My dear friend gave me this bottle as a gift. I am really enjoying it tonight.

I know it goes against the adage of "red wine with red meat. White wine with white meat." I read somewhere to forget the "rules" when you are learning about wine. Pick what you like. I like red wine better than white. Anyway, I think I put enough garlic in the casserole to complement the red. It was very delicious.