Sunday, May 19, 2019

Guests

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We've had a major weekend here at the Peaceful Reader house. My in-laws arrived on Friday night for Groovy Girl's dance recital on Saturday. Her recital is pretty much an all-day event and you have to really be prepared. We had a delicious breakfast to start our day and by 11 am were waiting at the event venue so we could get good seats.  In between the 1:00 pm show and the 6 pm show we met at one of our favorite healthy joints in the Cedar Valley, Greenhouse Kitchen, so we could make it through the second show.  Unfortunately she hurt her leg during one of the dances, danced two more dances and then gracefully exited the stage after it became unbearable. She's wearing a brace and hobbling around with a borrowed pair of crutches.  Hopefully it heals fast for her. 


Beyond the injury I love having guests to cook for and my in-laws enjoy good food. Here's a smattering of recipes I'm using this week. Tristan and his girlfriend joined us overnight so I needed a few vegan options as well.

Basil Chicken Coconut Curry: delicious and I made a second version with scrambled tofu for our vegan/vegetarians.  The flavor was amazing and I would make this recipe again.


Curried Chickpeas with mint and cilantro chutney:  I made this early in the week for everyone to have for dinner during the busy week. I already had a jar of chutney from an Indian grocery store so I didn't make that part of the recipe. This was so yummy Groovy Girl happily ate it and she is not a fan of chickpeas!  I used two cans of organic coconut instead of the one the recipe called for-it just looked like it needed more.

Cheesy Grits Casserole: I made this easy yet delicious (you can never go wrong with cheesiness) breakfast recipe on Saturday morning. We also had Icon donuts and Milkbox bagels for everyone.  You need to calorie load even when you are just going to watch the day of dance.


Tomorrow night we host book club at our house for Their Eyes were watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I'm going to make this Best Black Bean Soup from the New York Times for our gathering.

Bombay Frittata: I have yet to make this but I plan to one day this week for breakfast.

I hope you are cooking some amazing food at your house as well.


Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Mother's Day and post-prom bliss



Last night was prom for our local high school and Groovy Girl looked amazing with her crew of friends. Ballet pink is her color! It was pretty chilly but they weathered it well. My husband and I with a group of other happy parents helped with valet parking. It was a cold night and I had a hat and coat on while all the prom goers were without coats, socks, or sleeves in fact. It was fun to be there helping but not in the mix inside of hot sweaty not-really-dancing-young people. It looked like a lot of swaying to me. Times have changed and I loved watching tons of young women arrive on their own in beautiful dresses without a date in sight and I loved seeing several women arrive in very gender neutral attire. There were high heels, Birkenstocks, high tops, Doc Martens, and even someone with sneakers that were an exact match to her floral princess dress.

I've had a lovely Mother's Day as well as I was given the opportunity to sleep in after a busy weekend. Love extra sleep!! We had an easy and delicious breakfast at a local coffee shop.  This afternoon Groovy Girl and I headed to my mom's house and played one of our favorite family card games, Spite and Malice, with her.  We had chocolates and a glass of wine as we played. My mom won which is good because she's competitive and so a sore loser. My son called yesterday and today. My stepdaughter sent me a card and texted. I've chatted with mom friends as we pat each other on the back for our journey into and through motherhood. It does take a village and you have to have a calm and positive crew around you. We walked the dogs and I have two peony bushes to plant. What more could you ask for? Well, if you are asking, WARMER WEATHER would be at the TOP of my list.

I hope your day was just as pleasant! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

May flowers and May Baskets


I remember vividly running around our neighborhood, delivering handmade May baskets when I was a little girl. It was such a thrill to hear your doorbell ring only to find your friend racing away, screaming with delight, after delivering a popcorn-filled basket on your doorstep.  Such fun! Now some classrooms participate in this activity delivering popcorn-filled styrofoam cups around school and it's still cool but it's lacking that genuine thrill factor. Times change. If you want to bring that excitement back here is a fantastic resource, Create Whimsy, which gives many options over popcorn-filled cups like this plant-filled beauty. Next year I'm going to be prepared and start racing around my neighborhood delivering unique treats. 


May is such a busy month as we work to finish out the school year strong, Groovy Girl has her dance recital coming up, we are looking forward to my in-laws visit, and my husband has two shows in the works. Through all these we have to work to breathe, take care of ourselves, go to yoga (me), and get enough sleep (all of us) to be our best. I have my eye on June but I don't want to arrive there exhausted.

I'm working on a slideshow about gender stereotypes for 6th grade students for tomorrow and when I finish that task I have an excellent book, The Novice by Taran Matharu, to read. This is a book that a 4th grade student handed me and said I should give it a try. Now he stops in every morning to ask where I am in the story. We have a delightful conversation about the story and then he heads off to class. The part of the month that I dread is telling students that check out is finished for the year. At some point it's a requirement to get all the books back into the library for the summer yet many of our students are such readers they will resist this news and it fills me with joy and breaks my heart at the same time.

What's inspiring you today?

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Rainy days

It is rainy today and this weekend it snowed. Anything is possible weather-wise right now. School is winding down with just a little over a month left.  We had our last dance competition weekend and are now looking forward to recital on May 18th. Dance will be over for another year for Groovy Girl and next year will be her last at this studio. Wow. What a chapter. 

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Meanwhile we celebrated our son's 24th birthday with vegan pizza at a local pizza place.  He had vegan, we had vegetarian.  I understand how my parents felt when as a 13-yo I gave up meat and harped on them to follow suit. Our son admonishes us for not turning vegan for the planet. I say I gave up straws for the planet and have always lived a life thoughtful of animals but of course he feels we could go that one greater leap. I say the cheese sucks. Seriously vegan cheese is not for me. I'd rather not have cheese. On the upside I always still ask for a piece of his pizza as he is king of picking great toppings.

The next night we had amazing Thai food at Exotic Thai in Davenport, IA. Yes, it can happen; delicious and diverse food flavors here. I had a pumpkin curry that was amazing. I ate the whole bowl and wanted more. My husband had a coconut curry soup that was equally as good; he ate every last drop.  We had a busy two days watching dance and eating good food yet we carved out a few minutes on Saturday night to go to the mall. Groovy Girl is finding her own way to be green and wants to buy recyled/2nd hand clothes, especially jeans so we spent about an hour at Ragstock as she picked through the racks to find a few selections. I've always loved second hand shopping so it's rewarding to see her make this choice on her own.

I bought three pots of herbs today at the grocery store. I'm ready for planting.  It's going to need to get just a little warmer but for now they look great on my kitchen table right near the window and they smell intoxicating. While it warms up I've been busy reading Their eyes were watching God by Zora Neale Hurston for book club and I just started something new recommended by a student (he even gave me his copy) by Taran Matharu called The Novice~high fantasy and I've read several chapters tonight right after I made a delicious soup for the family.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Read diverse books? Here's a list...

Two friends of mine interested in books featuring diverse characters set me on a course when they recommended  Nafissa Thompson-Spires' book Heads of the colored people, a book of short fiction sketches that resonated with me. When I finished I often google authors to find articles or interviews that relate and help me understand more about the text.  I found this amazing interview with Thompson-Spires on Electric Lit and at the end she recommends a few writers she admires right now. So I jotted down each one of those names and headed to my fantastic public library.


If you haven't  yet read Nafissa's book, you should.  The purpose of reading diverse literature outside your normal zone is that you learn about how other people exist in the world. Her book demonstrates the similarities that make us all human. Here is what came after my trip to the library.


Black Girls Must Die: a novel for grown-ups by Jayne Allen (which I read about someplace else) - I loved this witty story featuring Tabitha Walker who is just trying to sort out her life and make decisions that matter.  When she is pulled over by a L.A. police officer her stream of thought is important for anyone to visualize and I loved Tabby's relationship with her grandmother.  Jayne Allen is a pseudonym for an unknown diverse author and there may be a second book continuing Tabitha and her journey.


An American Marriage by Tayari Jones - This book tells the story of Celestial and Roy and their first year of marriage when he is unfairly accused of a crime he did not commit but is convicted anyway. How far will the ties that bind keep you connected if you are living vastly different lives. I loved Celestial's artistic character but also questioned her decisions. I want to go back and read Silver Sparrow which I read about but never checked out.


Stay with me by Ayobami Adebayo - Another well-done book about a good marriage under pressure and this one takes place in Nigeria.  Everyone is trying to do what they think is the best for each other and sometimes life has other ideas. Yejide and Akin struggle on every level after a lovely first few months together.

Salvage the bones by Jesmyn Ward - This was a tough one to read as I felt such empathy for little Esch as she tries to make her way in a roughly male-dominated family near New Orleans as her family and small community prepares for Hurricane Katrina.  I want to read more from this author as well.

Loving Day by Mat Johnson - This one was a weirdly interesting tale of Warren's return to America after his divorce from his Scottish wife and discovering that he has a teenage Jewish daughter. Their quirky relationship highlights aspects of race as Warren and his daughter come to grips with their own mixed race lineage. I'm very interested in reading Pym. 

If you are looking for elementary fiction featuring diverse characters check out Front Desk by Kelly Yang and Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes, both equally good. I finished Angie Thomas' book On the Come Up recently and liked it. I didn't love it as much as I loved The Hate You Give yet I thought it was very real and Angie has so much to teach us.


Did you know my house is filled with books and I'm a frequent library user and member of one year-round book club, and that I just joined Book-of-the-month, and I have bookish friends and family who recommend frequently so suffice it to say I will never catch up.  So when I say I want to read this or that know that it could take me two days or two years to get back to an author or series.

Have a blessed week. Enjoy the beautiful weather; we know it is a gift.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Hello April


We are happy you are here!  I love all the seasons for a variety of different reasons and Spring has special qualities as the earth wakes back up sending green shoots out everywhere. It's about coming back to life after the long winter deep sleep. And yet even though it feels like Spring today with birds chirping, warm weather mixed with a little rain ~ Groovy Girl doing homework outside at the patio table ~ we have to be ready for anything as last year we had a heavy snow fall right in the middle of April. I'll wait until May 1st to take off my snow tires.

In my last two posts I've put my thoughts out there about garbage bags and the need to find one that composts everything inside of it. I want to take this idea one step farther and propose that all new plastic items be made out of plastic that already exists. I am a huge recycler of everything the recycling center says that I can recycle.  My family and research shows that our recycling program is a bit broken. Landfills are overflowing and people all around the globe produce way too much trash. Too many single use items everywhere. So my proposal means that all single use items like those stupid crinkly plastic bottles should be universally created from existing plastic already out there. This would give purpose to recycling again.

People could get paid for bringing in pounds of plastic collected instead of it ending up in our waterways and eventually the ocean. This reuse idea would use far less petroleum and while factories would need to restructure to be able to reuse the plastic instead of creating new ~ it would be worth it because there would be a constant influx of old going to make new.  And I still think some plastic items just need to go like plastic grocery bags. Kudos to cities that have already banned them and stores that encourage you to use what you have or what they offer like boxes. Perfect.  I would decree this if I were to be elected president or Queen.

Oh, it just started to pour outside and I love that sound. That is a sound of Spring ~ hopefully not enough to cause any floods.  Groovy Girl and I are on just a major rush of trying to find healthy ways to live our life without being earth destroyers. She's interested in finding sustainable and recycled clothes. It's just good to think about ways we can all be more earth-friendly.


I spent the weekend out of town in the major metropolis of Davenport, part of what is known as the Quad Cities. Groovy Girl had a dance competition event on Saturday. We found a good Asian place to eat and had a lot of good mama/daughter time. I had fun watching all the dancing but it also gives me a good chance to read.  I am almost finished with Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.  Wow. This was my Book of the Month Club selection for March and if this is a sign of what's to come I am very happy. This novel is so good and fun to read. I have about 3 friends in mind to pass it on to after my husband finishes it. It's a lot of sex, drugs, and rock and roll so it isn't for everyone but for me, it took me places I hadn't thought about for years. So beautiful.

Happy peaceful week everyone!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

My search for trash bags...


What does everyone else use for garbage bags?  You probably make the easy decision to just pick them up at Target or the grocery store where you shop.  Here is what you need to know; it takes 1,000 years for that trash bag to decompose.  That's a helluva long time.  I'm on the search for a better alternative.

After learning how much plastic (Ocean Conservancy) is in the ocean and making a mess of  our precious and beautiful land as well I decided to look for a more eco-friendly choice. We ran out of the box of Glad ForceFlex 50-count bags the other day and as I broke the box down for recycling I started thinking about a safer bag. We recycle a lot and think about what goes into our garbage but what if what was surrounding our trash was also a problem. I've purchased other eco-friendly choices before but either they were cost-prohibitive or not easily attainable. So I turned to the internet to see if I could find an answer.

I found this great article posted on a website selling compostable trash bags. Of course they want you to buy their compostable bags yet the definitions make sense to me based on what I know already.  What I learned is not to buy biodegradable bags because regular landfills do not usually have the key ingredients to biodegrade. Unfortunately the notes didn't help me find what I need as I'm looking for a trash bag for my NON- compostable materials; the stuff that ends up in landfills. We compost a lot at our house and we just throw that stuff right outside into a rolling bin and in the springtime we used to spread it out on the garden.  This is our first spring without a backyard garden so we'll still find a new place to spread the compost love back into the earth. I don't know why more people don't compost; its so easy and it's literally like giving the earth a gift back.

In my continued search I found this article from the SFGate from the city that's already banned grocery bags! I like some of Ms. Lovering's ideas of lining trash containers with paper bags or newspaper. According to my husband our trash pick-up is required to be in tied bags so right now I'm using the few grocery bags my husband carries home because he forgets to bring reusable bags.  I have to move forward, knowing I'm working on this issue in my own time, and hopefully along this journey I will find a solution.  It's going to make a difference, maybe not in my life time but for my children and the next generation.

Anyone have a green alternative?


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Too much to think about...

Last weekend I mentioned in my post that I really only thought about cooking and reading books. I have to amend this statement so you understand fully. I think about so MANY things it becomes overwhelming. It makes it easier to narrow it down to cooking and reading. Here is a smattering of other topics I think about...
World Peace

Kids in poverty globally - specifically the dear ones I know here

Donald Trump - just everything about him and his cronies/family

My family: I think about my kids a lot, not always a worry, sometimes just "I wonder how your day is..."

The environment and plastics in the ocean  - just did an amazing research project with Hansen kids on this topic and it is mind-blowing and disgusting how much trash and plastic particles are in the ocean.

My extended family and friend relationships

School, work, lesson plans, my overload of 1,000 + emails, right now my portfolio due soon

Climate Change - I worry about this on a daily basis, really.


Immigration esp. concerning kids, human trafficking, sweatshops

My two gorgeous yet problematic dogs

Awkward conversations

the LGBTQIA and how to make us all one community

My old house and all of it's needs (and wants)

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Black/Brown lives matter and how to fix this in our society

and now The College Scandal

This list is a random order - I could be thinking about my school work and suddenly I'm thinking about human trafficking.  One big thing leads to another equally important big thing.

Life is overwhelming often, so yes, it is escapism to think of cooking delicious food for your family and friends, listening to beautiful music,  a simple glass of wine, reading a good book. If you can't let these big things go a bit then we are all going to hell in a great big overpriced Gucci purse. We need to focus on the good positive around us to, to help in whatever ways we can on a daily basis and yet be able to let it all go for our own well-being at the end of the day. I struggle with this and try to overcome it.