Seven Quick Takes No. 67



So I’ve had a cold essentially all week—-yaaaay! (Not. :-P) So I’m going to make this  a 7QT about books because there’s nothing else going on. 🙂


I’m reading Kip Thorne’s The Science of Interstellar
Seriously, if this is what we would’ve discussed in physical science instead of Mousetrap cars, I would’ve loved physics!

And yes, any discussion of physics requires this:

Anyway, I really liked Interstellar, and this book is crazy well-written. I’m loving it so far.


Second: Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet

Seriously, folks, I’ve had this on my shelf since Borders was in business. (In fact that’s where I bought this book.) But it’s dense. Really dense. It’s one of those books I’m marking up with pencil and post-it flags. It’s good, but man, it’s got a lot going on that appeals to the research side of my brain, from French and British aristocracies to the writing of fairy tales. People. There’s so much here. If you’re at all interested in dance, this seems to be a good book for you. (Although reading it, I’m not sure why it was a ‘national bestseller’. Unless people are doing what I did and buying it and not reading it for years…)


Third: Our Mutual Friend (Oxford World’s Classics)

I actually watched The Invisible Woman yesterday, about Charles Dickens and his affair with actress Ellen Terney, and geez, Charles Dickens was a jerk. I’m sorry, but he just was. (I already thought this, based on Clarie Tomalin’s biography).  He treated both his wife and Nelly (as Ellen was called) badly. He was not good with women. Jerk.

Anyway, Our Mutual Friend is the last novel he completed, and it was a return to the serial form of his earlier days. I loathe the serial form. However, this book’s premise is intriguing (as I wrote about here), and I’m just getting into that part, so I’m sticking with the crazy excessive amounts of characters.


Fourth: Faith That Transforms Us: Reflections on the Creed

Full disclosure: I’m related to the Cardinal. He’s like my fourth cousin or something obscure like that. So I generally like whatever he writes because, hey, he’s family and he could be Pope. (Not likely. But still.) But this book, about the creed, is a good read and I’m using it for my Dominican study.


Fifth: Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose.

I keep dipping in and out of this. It’s so good, guys.


And finally…..A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories

I fully realize I am that strange person who reads cookbooks like novels. But I also fully realize that this is a freaking AWESOME cookbook and y’all should either buy it or get it from the library ASAP. It’s awesome.

Daybook No. 85

Daybook No. 85


Outside my window:

It’s that washed-blue sky, light clouds. Winter is coming, though (a la Game of Thrones….). We’re getting snow tonight, and tomorrow, and on Wednesday the low is supposed to be -4. Yeah, that’s right. -4.


So I am mostly staying in. Not that that’s a problem!


I just finished a yoga class (via a website), so yoga pants in a bright orangey-red, and a long-sleeved gray t-shirt, because, again, it’s cold. 🙂 No makeup. Contacts are in though, so I’m not being totally slackerly in the looks department. 🙂


The Death Class, which is really great so far. I mean sort of addictive. It was hard to stop and take yoga class and eat lunch! Also reading Pope Benedict XVI’s general audiences on Prayer, for my spiritual reading. After Class, I think I’m starting either Middlemarch or Our Mutual FriendMay. May not. 🙂 And still reading Elizabeth of York, for my dash of British history.

Around the house::

Today is the normal mop/vacuum/dust/sweep/take the trash out before it snows combo. As part of this, I’m also doing some decluttering as I go about, particularly in the Book Room and in the DVD collection. I also have some plans for wall art–things to hang, etc., but it requires getting frames. I’ve always wanted photos and posters and things like that going up the staircase, so we’ll see how far I can get in that goal. I have some gorgeous pictures of Paris that I bought at the city art festival years ago, but never framed, so those are a top priority, because they’re too pretty to just be sitting around despondently.


I have two writing goals–blogging three days a week, and working on the Book for 30 minutes every day, before noon. So far I have hit both goals. However, it’s only January Fifth. 🙂 Generally I’ve been doing my Office, my lectio (Bible reading), and then going for the writing. So far this is a good plan (because I don’t even need to get dressed to write, right? I can just sit here with my coffee in my PJs!)

From the kitchen::

Here’s this week’s meal plan, dinner-wise:

Tonight: Beef chili

Tuesday: Sesame Turkey Meatballs from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

Wednesday: Jamie Oliver’s stew. (When it’s -4, you want stew. That’s that.)

Thursday: Mustardy pork chops (a favorite around here)

Friday: Lunch–spicy shrimp with yogurt. I might be going out that night with the parents or having dinner at a friend’s, so I’m not entirely sure what dinner looks like.

Saturday we’re going to the symphony, so we’ll be eating out post Mass.

One of the great things I did over the weekend, when I saw the weather forecast, was take stock of my freezer. I buy meal and fish on sale throughout the year just for winter snaps like this, and I found I had:

  • 2 pk. of thick-cut pork chops
  • 3 lbs. of ground beef
  • 2 lbs. of ground turkey
  • a bag of shrimp
  • 1 lb. stew meat
  • tilapia filets

Thus, you can see why my menu is a bit meat heavy! Well that, and I’m having a colonoscopy next week. To prep for that, I have to stop my vitamins tomorrow, and since I”m anemic, I want to be loading up on the meat for the iron, and eating lots of iron-rich things. So GO MEAT. 🙂

So, I suggest taking stock of the freezer, writing down what you have, and then meal planning from that, if you’re in a “I need to shop quickly and cheaply” situation, because you might be like me and find many nice things!


Like I said, yoga today. Last week I exercised four days in a  row and lost two pounds. Yay! So since it’s going to be so cold, it’s going to be at home workouts until at least Friday. So I’m thinking yoga, ballet beautiful, and things like that, and I do have some small dumbbells here, so I can do some weight training to fill in any gaps, although I doubt there will be any. Yoga is great for giving your arms and core a workout.

In the CD player::

The film soundtrack to Mary Poppins. Singing along to “Sister Suffragette” is fun. But since Christmas isn’t over by the Breviary until Sunday–and the old calendar until Candlemas, which is February Second! –the Christmas music is still in rotation.



Christmas Train set. Pretty, no?

Outside my window::

Seven Quick Takes No. 62



So, yesterday I promised you the saint and word of the year. Let’s kick this off with the saint, shall we?

The winner according to the Saint Generator is:

St. Isaac Jogues

I greatly enjoy this quote from him:

My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to him, and not to spoil his work by our shortcomings. – Saint Isaac Jogues

All right then! St.Isaac and I are going to have a good year together. I hope. 🙂


Now, the word of the year!

I started doing this last year for the first time. Here’s the entry about that.

This year the word is:


It’s a big lesson I learned last year, and this year, we’re going to continue working on it. It’s not something that you learn once. It’s something you learn over and over and over again.

If I love Him, I trust Him. I have to believe Him. If you don’t trust the person you love….do you really love them? Do you believe they love you?

Jesus loves us all the time. God is always good, and we are always loved. (Ann Voskamp) Trusting in that is sure.


I’ve finished more of the Christmas books: In Cold Blood last night (it was OK…I’m not sure, really, what everyone’s going on about….but it had its moments); Mastering the Art of French Eating was amazing, and I highly recommend it. I’m reading Elizabeth of York right now, and I’m about to start The Death Class, which, OK, sounds super morbid, but you know…it looked good. It’s about a nurse who teaches a class about…death…to college students, who inevitably fill up the class every semester. Like, it’s a wait-list class. So I’m curious to read this. It was on the same “best of” list as Mastering. I also have a book of Knitting essays by a bunch of writers.


Speaking of knitting, I’ve been working with the new yarn and needles I got for Christmas. The first thing I always do with new fingering weight yarn is make a bookmark, so that’s what I’ve got going now. I messed up the tension at the beginning so the border looks a bit odd, but that’s OK. It’s really gorgeous yarn, Knit Picks Palette.


So how about the OSU/Bama game, huh? I have to admit, I thought Bama was going to crush OSU. I was definitely pleasantly surprised. Now I have something fun to watch the night before my colonoscopy. 😛 OH JOY! Also, Bucks and Ducks just sounds fun.


from the food front: I’ve made two Nigella desserts in the last two days: Chocolate Gingerbread and the Famous Guinness Cake. The gingerbread is REALLY good (I may or may not be eating a piece at this moment for “breakfast”), and the Guinness cake is always good. I need to frost it later today. You can’t frost it until it’s completely cool, and that takes awhile. So there’s a lot of chocolate in the house right now.


And I’ll leave you with a cute Christmas photo:


My sister with my cousin’s four month old son. Cute!

Daybook No. 82

Daybook No. 82

Outside my window::

Cloudy, a good day for staying inside with the fireplace on and the tree lit.

My Christmas Tree, 2014

My Christmas Tree, 2014


Jeans and an IBM Innovate conference long-sleeved shirt. (When we’ve gone to Disney the past two years, this is what we went for–that conference. Dad and I have matching shirts. 🙂 ) And fuzzy Life is Good socks, because it’s chilly!


Love Does, Seeking Spiritual Direction. And of course my Advent books.

In the CD player::

Renee Fleming’s Christmas in New York. I’m really loving her version of “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

Around the house::

This week I’m working on the kitchen–cleaning out the fridge and freezer, stuff like that. I’m trying to stick with the Zones, with some adjustments, because I want to polish all the furniture on the first level before Christmas week, sow hen people come over it’s pretty. 🙂

From the kitchen::

I’m working on some recipes from Mad Hungry. Yes, it’s for “feeding men and boys”, but man there are great recipes in here. Dinner is chicken and a side salad. Lunch is–tentatively–a meal-sized salad.


Clinic on Monday. Scheduled a colonoscopy for January–happy new year to me, eh? 🙂 Currently my stomach is acting up and refusing food, so we’ll see if it changes its mind later. It might, it might not. No biggie. I mean, not currently a biggie. If it decides to act up more, I will be displeased, but at the moment, it’s kosher.

Plans for the week::

Hockey game on Saturday night–Pens/Jackets. A tough night for cheering–but either way, a team I love wins! Sunday, I make life promises!!!!!! Ahhhhhhh!!!!


This amazing blog. People. This mom? This family? This shows us grace, and how God works. How He is good all the time. I love this family. These are my sorts of people!
Click over? Read the story? (You might want to start here.)

Really, it’s all grace. Overwhelming grace, God’s grace, the gifts we get every day. This family, this mom, gets that.


I try to live my life this way. And God knows, man, I fail and I fall and I flounder around going, Where is the burning bush?! But the older I get, the more I realize that grace is just everywhere, abundant, and that trust is how we find Him.

Daybook No. 79

Outside my window::

Well, this



Yeah, it snowed yesterday. Heavy, wet snow, about 2-3″, depending on where you were in the city. This is the sort of snow that looks pretty, because it sticks to the tree branches and makes them look all magical, but it also causes power outages (because it’s so heavy, weighing on the lines), and is a real pain to get off the car.

I know. I’m a grump. Sorry. I mean, I didn’t have to go anywhere yesterday, so I didn’t mind it, and it is pretty. I just remembered days of having to scrape this stuff off my car, in the morning, when it’s really cold. Shiver. (This morning, the low was seven, without the windchill. Yeah.)

Anyway, moving on!


Jeans, a sweatshirt, gray socks. Nothing exciting. Today’s going to be a lot of around the house stuff (see, really cold temperatures, above) so I want utilitarian clothes.

From the kitchen::

On a day like today, a lot. I’m thinking a vegetable soup for lunch or dinner, depending, and then chicken and rice for the other meal. So it might be chicken and rice for dinner, since the meat has to thaw (an adventure, today…). I might also try this chili recipe, which is super good and fast. (and warming!)

The snow threw me quickly into “winter provision” mindset–meaning making sure the freezer is stocked and I have a list of things I can make if I get snowed in. I mean, it’s not The Long Winter, here, but Columbus can get very, very cold, and we do get big snow storms, as last winter attested. So it’s better to be prepared. Part of my “around the house” stuff today includes making a list of recipes I can make from mostly shelf and freezer stable items.


I just finished Traveling to Infinity, by Jane Hawking, ex-wife of Stephen Hawking. She wrote this book awhile ago, but it was re-released to coincide with the release of The Theory of Everything, the biopic about the two of them, which stars Eddie Redmayne (sigh) and Felicity Jones.

The book is very, very good. She does a wonderful job talking about the good and bad parts of their marriage–it’s not all about the ALS. It’s about his work, her work, their children, their travels…it’s well-written and she isn’t writing it heavy on the pity, like some memoirs are. It’s factual, but you can also feel Jane’s emotions as she tries to balance everything. The movie’s already opened in New York and LA, but it gets wide distribution next weekend. I’m really looking forward to seeing it.


How much money is enough money?

Recently, I’ve become a baseball fan. My parents are from Pittsburgh, so they grew up with a full complement of professional sports at hand, and us children were raised to love them. This included the Pirates. But for most of my (conscious) life, they weren’t very good. Rooting for them was sort of like rooting for the Bad News Bears. They sure tried hard. It just didn’t go anywhere.

Because of that, my experiences with pro baseball were pretty limited, and what I did know, I didn’t like: the designated hitter rule, the strike, and the fact that there wasn’t any salary cap. I thought it was ridiculous that someone was getting paid a nine figure deal to hit a ball.

So anyway, I started putting all this aside and realized that baseball could be exciting and a fun sport when the Pirates started winning. Not when they went to the playoffs for the first time two years ago, but a few years before that. I started to follow them and I liked what was happening.

Yesterday we lost one of our best players to another team, who are going to pay him eighty million dollars over 5 years.

Eighty freaking million dollars.

Now, that works out to about $16M a year (Canadian–it’s a Canadian team). $16M is more money than I would really know what to do with.

When is enough, enough? I don’t know if he left just because of the money (he’s Canadian, he wanted to end his career in Canada, etc.). But really? A team that treated you well, a city that adored you….lost because of money? (Or at least that’s what it seems like.)

When is enough money enough money? I know how capitalism works. I know it’s “what the market will bear”, yada yada yada. But all the other pro leagues have salary caps. Why doesn’t baseball? Why is money such a huge part of the baseball makeup? There’s no parity, that’s for sure. Teams like the Pirates will never make as much as the Yankees in TV deals and all that stuff. They don’t have $80M to throw on one player.

So the system does need fixed. But also—guys? When is enough money enough money? How long would it take to spend $80 million? Think about it for a second.

I just don’t get it.

(Back to regularly scheduled programming!)

Around the house::

Dishes need washed, the first floor needs vacuumed and dusted, I think I’m going to bring the creche up today, sheets need changed on my bed and the furniture in my bedroom needs dusted.


My NaNo novel has sort of stalled. I don’t know why. Is it because it’s not the right time for me to write this? Because I’m dry on ideas? Or something else? Or maybe this story just won’t bear out. I’ve tried writing it in two different formats, now, and each time it hasn’t been enough to sustain my writing juices. Something to think about.

Still working on my scarf/cowl. I’ll have photos tomorrow for the yarn along.

Seven Quick Takes Friday No. 58


 (I meant to schedule this for tomorrow morning. So “tonight”=Friday night. 🙂 )


OK, so good news first: I’ve been accepted to make life promises with my Lay Dominican chapter! Yay! I will make them in December at our monthly chapter meeting.

agnes yay

I feel like Agnes with her Fluffy Unicorns. 🙂 🙂


So I am super excited about that. I am also super excited that I got to read Advanced Reader Copies (ARC) of LOTS of awesome new books that are coming out! This week I got to read Leaving Time, Jodi Picoult’s new book which comes out October 14, and Alexander McCall Smith’s The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Cafe, which also comes out in October. I love these authors, and I adore these new books. You must read them!

emily's book reviews button

I’m not going to say too much about these because I want y’all to read them yourselves and then we’ll talk.

Tonight I also read Vanessa and Her Sister, by Priya Parmar, which comes out January 13. As an avid Virginia Woolf fan, I really liked this novel, especially since it was told from Vanessa’s Point of View, as the title tell us 🙂 I’ve read almost all of Virginia’s novels, and The Hours is always one of my top five movies. Highly recommend this one.

The last one, which I haven’t read yet, is A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison. This one also comes out in January (1/27).

How did I get these? A local public library had a rep from Random House come in and talk about new releases, and there were lots of ARCs available for us to read. Part of that is drumming up interest, and no, I didn’t get paid to read these, so I can tell you, without bias, that the three I’ve read so far are great.

(ARCs are basically the finished novel, but “uncorrected proofs”, so there may be small typeset or editing errors that will be corrected before the final copies that go to bookstores.)


I’ve also been cooking a lot this week, mostly from The Chew‘s first cookbook.  I’ve made General Tso’s Chicken, Mario’s Restrictor Plate Chili, and Eggs in Hell thus far this week (and my hands are still stinging from chopping the jalapeños in that last one!). These recipes have all been really great, and I’ll try to post links to them on my cooking blog.


Speaking of blogs: as part of the BOOK PROPOSAL, I need to develop a “platform”. So I’ve got an “author” web page, which has links to my Twitter and Facebook Author Page. (Yes, I have one, yes it feels ridic to have one, but….) If you would be so kind as to go to my page here and follow both those things (and the page!), I’d be super happy. 

The page itself is still under construction, so there won’t be too much activity there for right now. But it is important in this digital webby era to have BRANDING ALL OVER.

So, I’m trying.

(I hate selling things, by the way. I hated selling Girl Scout cookies. But I really want the book to get published, so I’m selling myself for my book. :-0 )


In the world of writing, it’s almost NANOWRIMO time! This will be the third year I’ve participated. I wrote more about it here.  Come join? 🙂 It’s fun!


Dolly rehearsals go hard core this week. Dancing is tonight.

I’m nervous about that. I don’t really….dance….

On Saturday we’re running/blocking Act I, and on Sunday, Act II. I’m not teaching CCD this week, it’s my co-catechist’s turn. The topic? The rosary. The first Sunday of October is Rosary Sunday at my parish, so we’re going to teach the kids about this very Dominican, very important devotion.

So it’s a weekend with Dolly and teaching, and dinner with my friend Mary.


And finally:

This is an awesome look at OSU’s Wizard of Oz halftime show.

Daybook No. 72

Outside my window::

Sunny, some clouds, really nice temperatures. We’re going to hit the 60s by the end of the week, which is sort of exciting. Fall is invigorating to me.


A brown skirt, blue v-neck t-shirt, and my black workout leggings. I had rehab this morning and just tossed my skirt on over my leggings post workout.


Man, I’m behind in reading. I just re-read the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan because the last book comes out next month, so I wanted to be fresh on the story lines. I’m still reading Summa of the Summa, although now we’re in the interesting parts about ethics and what makes people happy, as opposed to the highly highly philosophical stuff like matter and yada yada. This is better for me. Working my way through The Artist’s Way with the workbook and the morning pages that I wrote about here.


I joined Planet Fitness last week and I really enjoy working out there. I know, gasp and all that. My PT would like me to go tomorrow and Saturday in addition to our 3x/week sessions. I’m OK with that.


So I’m doing Hello, Dolly! with PCT now. The music is harder than I thought. Sometimes much harder (“Put on Your Sunday Clothes”, anyone?). So I’m practicing daily in addition to our weekend rehearsals. Show goes up October 17. I really need to get a cast recording because the movie is pretty different, music wise (a  lot of the chorus parts are cut out and made unison), so it doesn’t help as much as it could.


CCD is back in full swing. We had our first class yesterday and I think, tentatively, that it’s going to be a good year. Much smaller class this year, not even 20 kids, as opposed to the 30+ we had last year!

In the CD player::

Frozen. I’ve been feeling the need to belt when I drive. 🙂

From the kitchen::

I have to do this week’s meal plan but I think it’s going to be a fair amount of stuff from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, which is one of my favorite cookbooks.