First Book I Read in 2012

I just finished my first book of 2012.

It was Jen Lancaster’s, If You Were Here. I thought I’d start out light.

I liked it. I’m a huge fan of her previous books and enjoy her style and her wit. I liked this one. It took me on a fun ride, but it wasn’t one of my favorites. There were a lot of similarities between her life and those of her fictional characters, but that didn’t bother me. I related to much of the home improvement snafus, though on a much smaller scale, since three years ago, my husband and I (with great help from my father), did an almost total rehab on our home. We tore apart a house and planned a wedding all at the same time. It was touch and go for a while there if the wedding would in fact take place. Rehabbing brings out the worst in you and you find out just how strong your relationship is. If only I had started blogging at that time. Maybe better that I didn’t……

If you are thinking about getting If You Were Here, but haven’t read her previous books, I would strongly suggest starting with Bitter Is The New Black and work yourself to this one. If you have read her previous books and are a fan, go for it. It’s fun.

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Epsom Salts….Who Knew?

I wiped out the other day, for no particular reason. Next thing I knew, I was going down. I twisted my ankle and it didn’t initially hurt, but it began to swell. My husband immediately got some ice and we had it on there for a while. Then I mentioned maybe I should soak it in some Epsom Salts, which he said, “Epsom salts aren’t for sprains and swelling.” Well, I always thought they were. So, before a debate broke out, I whipped out my iPhone and did a little Googling.

I came across a website for the Epsom Salt Council. Here’s the link, if you want to check it out for yourself:

Here (and some things I will just copy and paste) is what I found out:

Epsom salt is made up of magnesium and sulfate, which can help improve health in numerous ways. A lack of magnesium—which helps regulate the activity of more than 300 enzymes in the body—can contribute to high blood pressure, hyperactivity, heart problems and other health issues, doctors warn. Sulfate is essential for many biological processes, helping to flush toxins and helping form proteins in joints, brain tissue and mucin proteins.

Interesting, no?

In further researching, the Epsom Salt Council website also offers the following uses:

Pedicure soak (seems reasonable)

Exfoliant (interesting, but still reasonable)

Facial (hmm… more interesting)

Bath crystals (no brainer)

Hair volumizer (say what!?!?!) This one I found extra interesting (seeing as I have fine, flat hair). It says to mix equal parts of epsom salts and a warm conditioner – I don’t know if that’s a regular conditioner or a deep conditioner, or maybe either will work. Mix it up, needs to be warm, work it through your hair and leave it on for 20 minutes. I’m sooo tempted to try this one, but I’m afraid it may dry out my hair or strip out the color that is so valiantly hanging onto my gray. If anyone has tried this, pleeeaasse let me know.

Gardening – There were a number of uses (some of these I may or may not have gotten right off the back of the package). Keeps your lawn green, helps plants absorb the fertilizer you are giving it, good for tomatoes, peppers, roses, house plants. I immediately gave some to all my house plants. Being that it’s January in the Chicagoland area, my garden will have to wait for spring, but watch out when March rolls around!

Laxative (read the directions and see if you are a candidate, I can’t go recommending that!)

Soaking for: mild sunburn, stings, poison ivy, sore muscles, splinters, who knew?

The following two I took from the SaltWorks website, where if needed (and I am tempted), I could buy in BULK!

Helps prevent hardening of arteries and blood clots

Epsom salt is believed to improve heart health and help prevent heart disease and strokes by improving blood circulation, lowering blood pressure, protecting the elasticity of arteries, preventing blood clots and reducing the risk of sudden heart attack deaths.

Makes insulin more effective

Proper magnesium and sulfate levels increase the effectiveness of insulin in the body, helping to lower the risk or severity of diabetes.

Seriously, if these things are true, how am I not soaking, scrubbing and slathering myself with this stuff daily?

As for my ankle, it’s bruising, a little scraped up, but fully functioning. So I’m not putting out false information, I did follow the soak with horse liniment (a suggestion from an older country woman who uses it for all her aches and pains, but that’s a story for another day).

Take the beautiful, sparkly salts and soak yourself to good health!

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Endings and Beginnings

Endings and beginning
Beginnings and endings
Who this year
Will I end up offending?

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How Do I Stack Up?

I came across an article listing the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions and wanted to see how I stack up against them and see if I missed any I might need to consider.

1. Spend More Time With Friends and Family

I spend a lot time with my family, though my niece and nephew, that I am very close to, are now teenagers and have their own lives. I accept it, but I have been trying to come up with ideas to keep them close. I bought my nephew the Scrabble app, with the requirement that he play Scrabble online with me – at least one game per month. The first month just passed and it literally took a full moth for us to finish one game. He finished it in the evening of December 31st. He’s totally into this idea, don’t you think? I have started, with my niece, a story writing chain. I started a story and e-mailed it to her. She adds to the story and e-mails it to her mom. Her mom adds to the story and e-mails it back to me. There is a two day time limit for each person. I should have gotten it back yesterday. Still waiting.

My friends. That’s a whole different story. I’m a complete failure at that. Everyone is busy and those are the relationships that really suffer. I WILL try to do better.

2. Fit In Fitness

Yes, I need to.

3. Tame the Bulge

Yes, I need to. In a previous post, I talk about my goal to get into a bikini by summer. It will take A LOT of work, but that’s the goal and it pretty much covers Numbers 2 and 3. There’s about 30 pounds of bulge that needs blasting. Crunches, squats, here I come! Just thinking about it exhausts me…

4. Quit Smoking

I’m ahead of the game on this one. I smoked a quarter of one of my sister’s Capri Slims in high school and almost coughed up a lung. Never tried again.

5. Enjoy Life More

I think this is a good one and I don’t think I would have thought of it on my own. We are living hectic lives. We run from one task to another and do not take time to appreciate the journey. I think even taking a moment to recognize and appreciate the things in your life could really make a difference. Instead of thinking about making it to work on time, doing laundry, dropping off the kids, picking up the kids, going to activities, take a minute or two each day (beginning, end or somewhere in between) and appreciate the life, relationships and family you have created and are building. Bask in the glory and amazement of it all. I know it’s especially hard for women to turn off the multi-tasking and constant planning and worrying, but I think your mindset would shift a little if you took that little bit of time. Maybe somethings would seem like less of a chore.

6. Stop Drinking

I don’t really think this one applies to me. If I have a glass of wine a month, I’d be surprised. I’ll keep my occasional cocktail, thank you very much.

7. Get Out of Debt

Wow. This has got to be a big one out there! With the economy being what it is and no end in sight, this one is huge. My husband and I are working on trying to better our financial situation as well. We have some refinancing in the works, with the rates so low, it would only make fiscal sense. Of course, those require appraisals and property values aren’t what they used to be. Other than that, keeping spending in line is the only other alternative. I think most people would benefit from that.

8. Learn Something New

I like this one. This can have so many different possibilities. It can range from taking a class to getting a new job, or trying a new activity. The possibilities are endless and I’m going to have to mull this one over for a while.

9. Help Others

This is one that I’m already considering. It could be in the form of volunteerism, but I am taking the approach of just doing little things to help people in any way I can. Whether helping someone carry their groceries to the car, or opening a door for a stranger. I loved the movie Pay It Forward and I think we can all make it a better world by making small gestures. Even a smile can help brighten someone’s day.

10. Get Organized

Ugh! I make this resolution multiple times a year, every year and still nothing helps. I think I must admit defeat on this one and accept my failure. It ain’t ever gonna happen!

As I’m thinking about these and I know I can mark #10 right off my list, I am thinking of one I would like to work on personally. Patience. As I have gotten older, I think I have lost some of my patience. I find myself getting all worked up and I really need to stop and think whether it’s something worth getting worked up about. Granted, my husband purposefully tries my patience, thinking he is being funny, but I am going to make a concerted effort to try and diffuse that habit of his, but also just try to center myself and not get upset about the things that don’t really matter. Maybe that will help accomplish #5.

Happy New Year to all and let’s hear your resolutions for 2012.

Article referred to in this post was found online at a about.com Pittsburgh (by the way, I am not from Pittsburgh, but they seemed pretty universal to me). Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions by Albrecht Powell.

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SCRUBBER or SOAKER?

Are you a soaker, or a scrubber? I’m a scrubber and my husband is a soaker. I’m referring to dishes and pots and pans. If you have a dinner party of 6 or more, you inevitably will have a minimum of three dishwasher loads and a sink or counter full of dishes waiting in the wings. I did finally get the message through to my husband that (please) don’t stack the dishes in the sink (Damn it!) because that brings ALL other clean up to a grinding halt. Stack them on the counter next to the sink (not in Jenga-like towers), so at a minimum we (I) can wash down all the other counters and hand wash any delicate items, while they are awaiting their turn.

I CANNOT leave dishes soaking in the sink all night and wake up to a sink full of cold water that has a thin layer of fat and grease floating along the surface. The thought of plunging my hand down to the bottom of the sink to feel around for the plug, with the fatty food particles swimming around and touching me, makes me want to vomit. I would rather have it all behind me the night before.

This has been a sore spot for us for years. I don’t judge others for being soakers, just don’t try to force it upon me. We had a dinner party last night and we had a roast in a roasting pan and of course it gets cruddy and sticky and baked on. Well, two dishwasher loads later, the large roasting pan, a few glasses and some miscellaneous odds and ends were all that were left. I began to scrub the roasting pan and so started the latest installment of The Great Soaking versus Scrubbing Debate.
It went something along the lines of:

Husband: “No! No. No. What are you doing?”

Wife looks up from scrubbing. Says nothing.

Husband: “You have to soak that with some soap (emphasis on soap) and let it sit on the counter all night.” (We have a split sink and the roaster is too big to lay flat in the sink, thus it has to sit on the counter, which is that much less appealing to me.)

Wife: “I’m just going to scrub it, and get some of the baked on stuff loose and put it in the dishwasher for a final clean.” (And by the way, thanks for pointing out it needs to soak with SOAP!).

Husband: “No you gotta let it soak.”

Wife quietly and purposefully keeps scrubbing. End of debate.

Not an exciting debate and less heated (and boy they have been heated) than in years gone by because I think we (I) have begun to keep our (my) strong feelings in check (somewhat… most of the time).
Knowing the roasting pan would be sitting full of cold fatty water come morning until I dumped it, scrubbed it and threw it in the dishwasher, it was a no brainer. I won, if you consider scrubbing a gross and greasy roasting pan winning. It was a hollow win, but a win nonetheless.

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Ode to New Years Eve

New Years Eve brings about…
Resolutions galore
How to make us better
By walking through a new door
New Years Eve brings about…
Reflections of 12 months past
Of hopes unrealized
And dreams painfully dashed
I look into my closet
Only to find
28 year old jeans
I can’t get over one thigh
I swore one year ago
They would fit once more
But the acid washed denim
Mocks me ever more
I swore one year ago
I would find the sunny side
But embracing only happy
Would make half of me die
So ha ha ha ha ha
And boo hoo hoo hoo hoo
Embrace the mood swings
They are a part of you
I swore one year ago
I would be better informed
I would seem so intelligent
With knowledge my brain reformed
But what I actually found
Ignorance is in fact bliss
I can be much happier
If I don’t know what all is amiss
So I will go forward
Happily uninformed
Trying not to notice
The ever surrounding storm
Maybe I’ll skip resolutions
So I won’t have to defend
My utter failure at them
When the world comes to an end
Here’s to a New Year! May the world not come to an end next December, there is so much I’d still like to do. If I knew for sure the world were coming to an end, my priorities would be a bit different.
Posted in Holidays, Humor, New Years, Poetry, Resolutions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Is It Wrong? Literary Snobbery or Fun Fiction?

I have read some of the classics. I loved Grapes of Wrath and My Antonia, when I read them in high school. I was enthralled by The Handmaid’s Tale. More recently, however, I was brought to tears and a part of me died reading Sarah’s Key, saddened by the inequality of The Help and horrified by the culture in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

So is it wrong that I equally, if not more so enjoy books like Girls Poker Night?

Or that I am a Janet Evanovich junkie? I will read anything she writes, even her early stuff that doesn’t compare to the Stephanie Plum series.

I am a HUGE fan of Jen Lancaster’s works. I started with Bitter Is The NewBlack and read everthing thereafter. I almost gave up on it when I first started reading because I thought she was an awful person, but through her transformation, I found she is the bitchy friend everyone should have and let’s be honest, she may say it but most of us are thinking it.

Is it Chic Lit or just fun reading? I know at least three men that read Janet Evanovich. Is it any less literature than the classics? They are all just stories about life from different perspectives. Perhaps more entertaining and less tragic than the others, but no more or less significant. The major upside is at least I’m not depressed for days after reading them. I may feel a little empty because upon finishing, I feel like I just said goodbye to a dear friend and won’t be seeing her again anytime soon, but alas that may be the tragedy of Chic Lit.

So those are my guilty pleasures and I’m going to stand tall and proud and I will not hide them behind book covers, Time Magazines or read them only at home. After all, they didn’t get on the bestsellers list if I’m the only one reading them!

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