Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sunday Roasts

This week I did another “Sunday roast” option from this great book. I chose the pot roast in foil option, which had 2 follow up meals: beef ragu or beef and barley soup.
So the pot roast was, quite simply, amazing. I created a spice rub, put the seasoned roast on top of vegetables, and wrapped it all in foil. It was SO good. Great flavor, once again. The only problem was that some of the roast juice ran out of my foil packet. The vegetables tasted wonderful, having been basted in roast juice for 4 hours. The meat was tender and delicious. I’m sure it helped that I bought a happy cow (free range, grass fed).

The next recipe was beef and barley soup. This required a bit more prep work in cutting up carrots and an onion, then browning mushrooms and onions together. After that minor prep work, I threw everything into the Dutch oven and let it cook, adding the left over shredded pot roast at the end. It was also quite delicious.

One thing I don’t quite understand. There were several ingredients added to enhance the beefy flavor of the soup: tomato paste, browned onions, pot roast juice, etc. However, the recipe called for using chicken stock for the primary base. I don’t understand why they don’t just use beef stock for beef flavor. I’ll admit, the soup did taste beefy, not chicken-y. I’m planning to write a letter and ask them about this. Haha, I’ll be sure to post any response I get on this blog!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Slow Cooker Revolution Chowder

Yesterday I used my slow cooker to make Butternut Squash Chowder. I was a little skeptical, honestly. The last time I made a butternut squash soup it was tasteless. But I had leftover butternut squash (from the Make Ahead Veggie casserole) and saw the recipe in my Slow Cooker Revolution and figured I’d try it. 

I had to start midday because the cooking time was 4 – 6 hours. No biggie. I cooked up some minced bacon, added the onion, and then was pleased to find I was actually making a roux, using the bacon fat. YUMMY. Sure, it took some time to chop up the onions and garlic and sauté the bacon, but it wasn’t any more time than I usually spend on dinner. After creating the roux, I dumped it along with the other ingredients into the slow cooker. Thirty minutes before eating, I added kale. A final addition of some cream and sage and then we dove in.

Oh my! This soup was AMAZING. I mean, the flavor was so deep and yummy. The bacon fat added so much deliciousness without any grease. How? I don’t know. The flour in the roux perhaps? Looking at the soup is not impressive: a pale yellow broth with chunks of kale and squash. But then you take a bite and you just keep on going. 

This is one the things I love the most about America’s Test Kitchen recipes: there’s so much flavor – it’s not just salty or sweet food. This chowder tasted meaty and rich, and of course it did have chicken stock and bacon in it. But it didn’t taste like salt, or bacon. It just tasted good. Hearty, healthy, filling. This is a winning recipe I will make over and over again.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top 10 Ways to Avoid Conflict with a Toddler

I have a wonderful strong willed daughter. She has a fierce sense of justice, strong opinions that she is not afraid to voice, and a kind streak that is a mile wide. Unfortunately, she is not an adult, which means that, well, sometimes her decisions are not as fully informed as one might like. With that in mind, I'd like to offer 10 ways to avoid conflict with your toddler.

10. When offering choices, only offer 2 options that are acceptable to you. Instead of "Do you want to eat brussel sprouts?" say "Do you want to eat brussels sprouts with butter or plain?"

9. As long as the clothes will not cause harm, give up on controlling them. Crocs give my daughter blisters, so I don't buy them any more. On a cold day, I'm going to make sure she wears long sleeves - but to avoid conflict, I simply hide all the summer clothes so even if she pulls out every shirt, they'll all work for me. If she wants to wear a hoodie with a tutu, or pants under a skirt, or mismatched shoes, fine, whatever!

8. Stand your ground. Every time you set a boundary and stand your ground, your precious one has a job: to find out if s/he can break the boundary. That's literally her job! If you give in after 5 hours of this, she will know exactly what is necessary to break the boundary. Expect testing of limits, which leads me to...

7. Pick your battles carefully. Your toddler's job is to establish independence. Make sure that the rules you set are essential and that you are willing to die on that hill. If it's not that important, then let it go. He wants to watch the same episode of Dora the Explorer every day for 6 months? Fine. She wants to stay in the bathtub even though the water is, at best, tepid? Fine.

6. Be aware of your own child's abilities. I know that a toddler can't sit at a table for longer than 15 minutes, so I don't try to force that behavior. If your toddler is consistently failing an expectation, spend some time making sure that expectation is developmentally appropriate. Ask your pediatrician or child's daycare teacher for more information.

5. Remove temptation. We child proof our homes once babies start moving - be sure to stay up to date with the child proofing! Anchor bookshelves to the wall. Lock cabinets with breakable objects. If you don't want the toddler touching an object then keep it out of reach.

4. Tell, don't ask. If something is nonnegotiable, then don't present it as a question or a choice. It's SO easy to fall into this trap, because of good manners. When at a coffee shop with an adult, we say things like, "Can we sit in a booth instead of a table?" Or at the mall we say, "Do you mind if I just run by the tea store really quickly?" And then, when at the mall with our toddler, our habit cues us to say, "Mommy needs to run by the tea store, OK?" This invites the toddler to express her opinion, which is likely going to be "NO!" Remember to tell: "We are going to the tea store now."

3. Play physical games with your toddler. I know we're all tired, but physical connection is hugely important to small kids, and physical games, including tickle fights, relieve stress and bring emotional connection, which can reduce a toddler's desire to resist. Any kind of silly game that brings laughter and physical motion is good.

2. Build your schedule on toddler time. On a good day, I have at least 30 minutes of completely free time with my toddler to play and cuddle and read books. On a bad day (oversleeping, food spills, injury, got up on the wrong side of the bed, etc.), I still have time to get her to school on time. Knowing that I have more than enough time relaxes me, which in turn relaxes her, because she knows that if she needs a cuddle, I'm not going to be rushing through it. Toddlers live at a different pace than us: create space for them.

1. Stop fighting. In case of emergency, you can always use your physical strength to enforce a rule (IE, fire, crossing a street, falling off furniture). If it's not a true emergency, just walk away. It does take two to fight!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Just Who is Responsible for Your Growth?

I have a pet peeve. People who say they want their church to “feed” them. We are not baby birds, people! I hear this a lot, especially when people talk about leaving one church for another. There seems to be this idea that the singing and preaching on Sunday should be directly stimulating growth. Having worked and volunteered extensively at a small church for years, what annoys me about this is that people don’t actually take responsibility for their own growth. They expect that what they hear for 45 minutes 1 day a week, along with 30 minutes of praise music a week, will magically transform their hearts and minds into conformance with God’s heart and mind. Sorry, y’all, that ain’t gonna happen. I can serve you good food and install a state of the art gym in your house, but if you don’t take advantage of it, you will not get into shape. 

The church is not the gardener of our heart. Church is fertilizer, a sprinkler system, garden stakes, deer fences. We are the gardener. We must plant the seeds we are given. We must weed our hearts and lives. We are responsible for cultivating our own spiritual garden.

Churches provide help in this process. Based on my education and observation, non liturgical churches do this by providing opportunities for fellowship and education. The sermon provides education and offers practical action steps. Sunday school or small groups/ministries provide support as people engage in those action steps. The onus is on the individual to take action. 

Liturgical churches are a different matter entirely. My seminary training didn’t cover any liturgy, so I can only speak based on my observations here. But from what I have observed and read, the transformation comes in part from the sermon and ministries, but also in part from the liturgy itself. Each week, as we say words that the faithful have spoken for hundreds of years, sometimes for almost 2000 years, we shape our minds and hearts. The Holy Spirit moves within us through the words and the rituals, feeding us. The responsibility is less upon the individual and more upon God.

I’m not going to say one way is better than another. I think the multiplicity of churches and denominations is both good and bad. The good is that people can find places where they are comfortable, loved, and safe. The bad is that we fight over silly things.

What I am going to say, however, is that you must take action. Don’t even think about leaving your church because it isn’t “feeding” you unless you’ve taken advantage of all their offerings. Volunteer in a ministry. Join a Sunday school or Bible study. Donate 10% of your income. Take every single action step you hear during the weekly sermon. As a new participant in a liturgical tradition, I take time to use the daily personal liturgies available to me in the Book of Common Prayer.

Churches provide tools for cultivating our spiritual maturity, and God creates the actual growth, but we cannot be passive. We must take action.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Crock Pot, Chicken Stock

I love to make chicken stock. Why? Because it’s relatively easy and it tastes amazing. I mean, seriously, once you’ve had homemade stock you realize the store is just selling you flavored salt water. The drawback to making my own stock is that it’s a 6-8 hour process, and we eat it all within a week. That’s a major time investment for 1 or 2 meals. One issue is, of course, that I don’t have a true stock pot. I remedied this situation recently with an awesome stock pot that I can’t wait to break in. That sucker will make enough for me to freeze AND eat the stock I make! 
Even though I love homemade stock, I have the Slow Cooker Revolution book from America's Test Kitchen, which offers a true "throw and go" chicken stock recipe, so of course I had to try it. 

Making the stock itself was super easy. I followed the directions and let the water slowly suck all the deliciousness out of the chicken wings. Then I popped it into the refrigerator and waited. 
Yesterday I made chicken noodle soup using my crock pot stock. It's my easy recipe: a couple of chopped carrots, couple of chopping celery stalks, egg noodles and canned chicken, all dumped into a pot of stock and boiled for 10 minutes. As we ate, Husband and I evaluated the new stock. 
For basic chicken stock, it was fine. In fact, I would be willing to make this a couple of times a month, then freeze and use for recipes that require stock. It'll be healthier than the store bought options. But for a standalone recipe like soup? Not so much. My original recipe, which, to be fair, includes a lot more ingredients in the pot, is much more flavorful.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

On Being a Branch in the Vine

Reading about the Vine and Branches in Food and Faith. It reminds me of how so many people believe they can be Christians without a faith community. Why do they believe this? Because they haven’t been taught or educated correctly. We are taught that being Christian is an intellectual and ethical exercise. Believe the right things and then do the right things. Well, of course we don’t need a community for that. No one needs a community to help them believe in gravity. No one needs a community to help them clean their house or brush their teeth. And we boil the ethics down to a sad, picked over version of Torah, which makes it pretty easy to “please” God. We follow the 10 Commandments. We try to self-generate the fruits of the Spirit as described by Paul, so we surround ourselves with people we like and stuff we enjoy and bingo, Christianity achieved. But we’ve missed the point, and why? I can only say it’s because the church has failed to teach us the true point.

Being a Christian is a love affair. It is about loving and adoring our Mommy-Daddy God. It is about allowing the Holy Spirit to love us from within. It is about finding true sympathy and understanding in Christ our brother. It is about looking at Torah, ALL of it, and understanding how hopeless we are at fulfilling it, especially once we add Jesus’ interpretation as found in Matthew 5 – 7. Once we have comprehended how far we are from fulfilling Torah, then the Holy Spirit comes in and comforts us. Then our gratitude for Jesus’ actions is overwhelming. And, just as in Luke 7, the more we allow the Holy Spirit to show us our sins, the deeper and greater grows our love for Jesus. And by the way, being honest about our sin and our capability for sin is not about guilt, or beating ourselves up. It’s about being a small child, seeing how we can’t actually do very much, and then running to Mommy-Daddy God’s lap for comfort and reassurance. It’s about being an integral part of millions of lives brought together – a giant beautiful vine.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Why I Don't Review Books on Goodreads.

OK, I’m on Goodreads for 1 primary reason: to have a place to record book recommendations. Someone recommends a book to me and I go onto Goodreads and add it to my “to read” list.

Recently, however, I’ve made the mistake of reading some of the reviews that get posted on Goodreads, and they are terrible! For example, there were many bad reviews of the memoir Wild. Now, in any memoir, you’re going to get a lot of introspection. That’s kind of the point. In this case, the introspection was very honest and revealed a lot of bad choices by the author. I found her candor refreshing. Yes, her behavior was destructive, but she KNEW it was destructive. Yes, her hike was ill prepared, but she stuck to her guns and completed it. I loved the memoir. The writing was excellent, the story well told, and I respected her for her actions and choices and honesty.
The reviewers decided that a book review required a character assassination. They criticized the book for being self-absorbed, rather obviously showing that they don’t understand the memoir genre. Then they criticized every decision the author made, from her sexual history, her drug use, and her attempt to hike. So let me get this straight: the author recognized her lifestyle was destructive and decided to hike in the wilderness to get her head straight, and BOTH decisions were bad? Damned if you do and damned if you don’t, huh?

Another book I recently read was titled The Binding Chair. It was a fictional story about a turn of the century Chinese woman who had bound feet and had to make her way in a new world. It was quite good. But at least one reviewer complained about it because it didn’t teach her enough about the foot binding process. OK, first of all, if you want to learn about the foot binding process, I recommend you start in the NON Fiction section of the library. Second, if you want to read fiction about the foot binding process, try reading the back of the book and finding out when the book was set: if it’s set at the turn of the century, foot binding isn’t going to be a primary focus.

I recently read Mad About the Boy, the third installment in the Bridget Jones novels. It was hilarious. It was also, rather unexpectedly, touching and poignant. I gave the book 5 stars because it completely met my expectations for humor and laughter, developed the Bridget character in an interesting way, and had real moments of pathos. As always, Bridget’s distinctive voice was beautifully written, the diary conceit was well executed, and the story line, while predictable, was believable. Then I read some of the reviews. Wow. Once again, character assassination was in order, although this time the reviewers were criticizing a fictional character. Is Bridget Jones a model for strong successful women everywhere? Hell no! Are her thoughts and actions as a (small spoiler) mom exemplary? No, but no mom’s are all the time. Of course Bridget would write about her disasters in the diary but not her successes. That’s the point of a diary. None of the reviews discussed the quality of the writing.

I think people on Goodreads just want to viciously criticize books so they can feel good about themselves. And this is why I will give stars to a book but not write a review. What's the point?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Make Ahead Experiment

I love Cook’s Country and America’s Test Kitchen. I get a subscription to both magazines, watch the shows on DVR, and make a lot of their recipes. I very rarely have a miss, so when I saw their cookbooks for crock pot cooking and make ahead cooking, I was on board. One reason: their times are always right. The Cook’s Country magazine always has 30 minute meals in the center, and they truly are 30 minutes to make! So now I’m working my way through the Make Ahead Cook.

First up: Vegetable and Orzo pasta. I made this casserole on Sunday afternoon. It was pretty easy to make. On Monday, I finished it off. While it definitely saved me time on Monday, it was a total of at least 2 hours cooking time, so it didn’t save me time so much as redistribute my time.

Sadly, the casserole was not as delicious as I had hoped. Pasta, cheese, squash and arugula? Sounds awesome. The arugula was, actually, really tasty, and the flavors were good. The casserole itself was just watery. It needed more time in the oven. A thicker cheese crust on top would've added some visual appeal too.

Tuesday I did the “Sunday roast” routine. I roast leg of lamb one day, then use it for leftovers the second day.

OK, the roast lamb was amazing. It was 2 hours of prep time and then the lamb had to rest for 20 minutes, so that made putting the sides together tricky. But the prep really wasn’t too bad. Basically I threw together the seasonings into the oven for an hour, then trimmed the lamb, pounded it “flat”, cut a hatch pattern into the fat and salted it, then let it sit on the counter while the seasonings roasted. Next I threw the lamb on top of the seasonings for a half hour in the oven, and finished it under the broiler. Oh my gosh, it was SO GOOD. And note well: I'm not a master at pounding meat flat. My lamb had lots of thickness variations and looked kind of crazy, but it didn't matter in the end.

Of the two leftover options for Wednesday, it was either salad or shawarma. I’m not 100% crazy about the shawarma, because that’s not really my kind of food. But I hate salad and it's too cold for salad anyway. Plus we have an awesome Mediterranean restaurant/market nearby, so I got some nice fresh pita bread and delicious baklava for dessert. Tonight it’s just a matter of cutting up the toppings (lettuce and tomato), mixing some yogurt with some tahini, quick sautéing the leftover lamb, and assembly. Basically burgers with different components. If I were a master chef, I’d probably make a side dish, or at least buy some hummus. One day. One day…

The lamb shawarma was REALLY good. I didn’t care for the yogurt tahini sauce, but I suppose it added a bit. The lamb was amazing – tender, flavorful, and cut to just the right size for eating in a wrap. (I did that. As someone with severe jaw issues and braces, biting into sandwiches is a challenge).

So here’s the best part of the Lamb roast with leftovers. The original recipe, which said it serves 4, called for 6 pounds of lamb. That’s a lot of meat. I got just over 4 pounds. I’m feeding myself, Husband, and a 3.5 year old. The little one occasionally eats more than her parents combined, and some nights eats 1 bite. Well, the 4 pounds of lamb has plenty of leftovers. I can do lamb shawarma again, or just reheat the roast lamb and leftover lemon potatoes. So, yes, I’m feeding 2.5 people v. 4, but even then I have more than enough with just 4 pounds of meet.

Pretty sure next week I’ll do the 2 roast chickens and leftover recipes. Exciting!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Top 10 Worst Things About Switching Churches

10. Finding a place to sit. Contemporary chairs, theater seats, or pews notwithstanding, we all have a set spot in our church. When you switch churches you’ve got to find a brand new spot to sit.

9. Finding the bathrooms. Is there anything worse than needing a bathroom and hunting through the halls of a church building to find one? Only to find that you’ve stumbled into the education wing and the toilets are only 12 inches off the floor? Yeah, finding the bathrooms is a pain.

8. Finding the SECRET bathroom. Every church has one. And that’s the bathroom you’re going to want. Why? Seriously, don’t ask. We all know the answer. You had a nice secret bathroom at your old church, but now you have to find the new one.

7. Learning the secret memorized responses. Again, this applies across all different church and worship types. Inevitably there is one thing that this church has memorized that won’t be printed in the bulletin or projected onto the screen. Maybe it’s the Doxology. Maybe it’s the codified answer and reply for the fellowship/passing the peace/passing the pew book time. Maybe it’s the melody of a particular collect.

6. Learning the parking lot. Much like your church seat, you used to have a favorite spot to park your car. You’ve got to find a new spot now. In addition, you need to learn what time to arrive before all the spots simultaneously disappear, and figure out how your new spot relates to the secret bathrooms, side entrances, and your new favorite pew row.

5. Walking into the middle of someone’s drama. Someone in the new church has drama. Maybe it’s an unwanted pregnancy, or a miscarriage on the first Sunday you visited, or they come into the fellowship hall during the pot luck lunch weeping and everybody you’re talking to rushes over to comfort them. Of course you politely stay out of it at first, but later, as you become part of the fabric of the community, people will start to assume you know this tragedy, and so you’ll always know there’s a land mine there, but you’ll never know exactly what it is.

4. Finding new friends to help you move. Every church has a group of guys who are game for any kind of heavy lifting. When you switch churches and suddenly need heavy lifting, who you gonna call? It feels weird to call these dudes now that you’re not in “community” with them. At the same time, you don’t know who the heavy lifting guys at your new church are, so you can’t call them either.

3. Staying in touch with the people you love at the old church. Maybe your church split, and so now you are finding a new church with all your closest friends. More likely, you are switching churches for a more personal reason: you moved to a different neighborhood, volunteer burnout, that time you showed up at the Fall Festival drunk wearing a hulu skirt and nothing else… There are still people at your old church that you love dearly. But now, instead of having built in time with them every week, you have to find time to spend with them, and they have to find time to spend with you. Your success in this venture will depend on how well you do generally (are you still in contact with your high school BFF?) and what stage of life you’re in (did you just have a baby?).

2. Lunch plans. You had a system for lunch at your previous church. Maybe you went to the early service, so you always beat the restaurant lunch rush. Maybe you had brunch and went to the late service. Perhaps the service was the perfect amount of time for you to throw a chicken in the oven and leave it without worrying that your house would burn down. Now you’ve got to find a whole new system.

1. Finding out who your real friends are. Inevitably, there will be people from your prior church who stop talking to you. You won’t know why. They may be people you laughed with every week, and now they don’t even reply to an email. Sure, investing time in maintaining friendships outside church is difficult, but it always hurts when you realize that someone you were going to make the effort for has decided that you aren’t worth her time.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

7 Reasons Why I Don't Use Pinterest for My Business

I love Pinterest. And I use it, but not to market my business! Here's my 10 reasons why:
7. THIS board
6. One time I made a comment that was not positive. It was a sarcastic observation. I was torn to shreds and someone commented that "EB" must stand for "Extra Bitch." There is no tolerance for humor, at least not my brand!
5. Pinterest is my Vision Board. I have a Secret board that I use for vision casting. And a lot of it is personal. And I'm really not sure how secure Pinterest is.
4. While I lovemaking Memes, which are eminently Pinnable, I'd prefer to just talk or write to share my business.
3. I just started using Jamberry. And now that I have insanely intricate manicures, I want to create a "punk" Pin - detailed directions for how to get these results. I mean, come on, don't you think people are already doing that anyway?
2. I don't have time - I've got to make sure my marketing time goes into strategies I enjoy.
1. Related to that - when I go onto Pinterest, I just want to relax. I don't want to think about my job.

Do you use Pinterest for business?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Yes, I offend people.

I am honest. And that scares people. It also offends them. When I suffered from Post Partum Depression, I openly admitted it. I talked honestly about my feelings. Some people didn’t like it. Some of my friends distanced themselves from me because they were angry at me for not being able to rejoice over my beautiful healthy baby.

I am sorry that my honesty offended, but I wouldn’t change my behavior. Because although 2 people withdrew friendship from me, at least 4 others confessed privately to me their own sufferings from PPD, and how much it meant to them to hear about my struggles. That’s a trade-off that’s worth it.

I am an LGBT ally. I think there are probably more letters now, but (to be honest) I don’t have the time to look them up. Besides, I support the whole shebang. Why? For 2 reasons. 
1. If I’m not interested in having sex with you, then frankly your sexual preferences are completely irrelevant to our relationship. And here’s a clue: the only person I want to have sex with is my husband. He’s straight. Hurrah! 
2. I believe that Paul was serious when he wrote Galatians and Romans. I believe that when he says we have been set free from the Law, he meant it, meant the entire Torah. So I can eat bacon, wear cotton-wool blend clothing, ignore mold stains on my tent, have sex with my husband regardless of where I am in my menstrual cycle, masturbate, get drunk, smoke tobacco, eat like a glutton, fast like an anorexic, commit suicide, grab a man’s balls if he’s attacking my husband, take the Lord’s name in vain, get divorced, remarry my original husband, shake hands with a man less than 40-80 days after I give birth, double harvest my fields, keep my ox loose even after he has gored somebody to death, and keep 100% of my earnings to myself. Now, is it GOOD for my soul and spirit to do these things? Maybe, maybe not. Should my Christian community reject me for doing these things? I say no.

My willingness to support those of alternate sexuality has offended people and hurt friendships. I am not sorry. I consider people of alternate sexuality to be one of many severely oppressed groups in America today, and I am proud to speak up on their behalf.

I am a feminist. I believe that women and men should have the exact same legal, civil, medical, and financial rights. I believe that denying women access to birth control while at the same time granting men access to Viagra is an obscene and inane example of brutal sexism at work. I have yet to see a community that practices complementarianism that succeeds in affirming women as gifted by God. I believe that the failure to ordain women is a major problem in the global church; a failing that I believe saddens God.

I do offend people with my feminism. I am sorry. I regret that my feminism is so militant, and I am actively working on how I can express my views in a way that educates rather than offends. But I cannot lie, and I cannot put on a mask to hide my beliefs. I can only ask humbly that if I offend you with my feminism, that you give me the chance to make amends and to have a calm, rational conversation about the issue.

Share with me: Do you offend people? How?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Broadchurch v. Gracepoint

So recently, Fox remade the British TV series Broadchurch. They even had David Tennant reprise his role in the role. But they did make one significant change to the ending.

Being a huge David Tennant fan, I watched Gracepoint (I didn’t have access to Broadchurch). Today I discovered that Netflix has Broadchurch, and so I decided to watch the first episode to get an idea about the differences.

Here’s what I noticed right off the bat.
1.     Broadchurch looks like it was filmed somewhere sunny and warm, like CA, instead of gloomy England, where it was actually filmed.
2.     Gracepoint looked like it was filmed in England, and was actually filmed in British Columbia. I had a hard time believing Gracepoint was supposed to be in California.
3.     In Broadchurch, David Tennant has a Scottish accent, which is much more pronounced than his accent in Dr. Who.  In Gracepoint, he has an American accent.
4.     Broadchurch’s first episode is quite cheerful. The characters seem likable and happy, as opposed to tense and grumpy in Gracepoint. I honestly wasn’t sure, 4 episodes in, why I was still watching Gracepoint.
5.     Jodie Whittaker, age 32, looks old enough to have a teenage daughter. Virginia Kull does not. After a lot of searching, it appears that Kull is 33, but I still don’t buy it. The whole time I just looked at her perfectly smooth baby face and thought “16 year old daughter? No way!”
6.     In Broadchurch, Beth and Mark seem much more in harmony, at least so far. In the first episode of Gracepoint it was clear that Beth and Mark were in a bad place in their marriage.
7.     British police wear funny hats.

I don’t know if I’ll continue watching Broadchurch, but I might!

Thursday, January 1, 2015


I'm a member of a cool Goodreads group, which brings up the question of book reading goals. I've never set goals. I've never had to. I'm an avid reader, and purely by accident, a speed reader. During the most stressful and worst times in my life, I've only read 1 or 2 books a quarter.

Right now I'm facing the peculiar time crunch of a mom with a toddler. Reading, even when she's engaged elsewhere, is something of a challenge because of the noise. I can't read when the TV or music is on. I can do it if the subject matter is light and fluffy enough, but intense books? I need quiet. As a result, although I've maintained a high reading pace (10-15 books a quarter), I'm not reading as much non fiction as I normally do. Non fiction requires more intense concentration as well as a longer reading period. A Christopher Moore novel? Five minutes here and ten minutes there gets me through it just fine. A Cynthia Bourgeault book? Even with my speed reading, I need at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to process the concepts. So, all that to say, my goal for this year is to create time to read more non fiction. My non fiction stack of book is piling up, and this year I'm going to cut it down!

And a note on the speed reading thing - I always knew I was a fast reader. It was never something I set out to do on purpose. I believe that I developed the skill by reading a lot. I was actually in grad school and got the chance to take an extra mini course on speed reading, so I immediately signed up (fortunately, it was free). I read all the reasons that people read slowly and didn't recognize myself. Then I started with the advice. I calculated my reading speed for the initial test and was surprised to realize that my current reading speed was the GOAL reading speed for the class.

Is it a problem? I suppose it could be. I think speed reading might be the reason that very few books make me actually laugh out loud. I see the humor, and maybe crack a smile, but since I'm flying through the novel, I don't laugh. On the other hand, it could also be that I just am not easily moved to laughing. There are certain authors that always bring a smile or laugh to my face: Anne Lamott, Martha Beck, Christopher Moore, Jenny Lawson.

So there you have it, Internet. More non fiction books in 2015!