Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day...to all dads


Dear Dad;

You'd be so happy to see how all your children have turned out. Well maybe; we might have happy separate lives but a few of us don't have much of a relationship. You would have worked hard to help us mend that because you had faith in family. You knew it was important to let the little things go and the big things to because no matter what family is family and they are your first source for love.

Grandkids are good too. You'd be proud of Tristan at University of Iowa, studying and applying himself to make a difference. His major is political science and you would have loved to talk current events with him. He has a real handle on how the world is and loves discussing the bigger picture. My Groovy Teen (the artist formerly known as Groovy Girl) begins 10th grade in the fall.  She is a bright light, a dancer, a imaginative thinker, a designer, a friend, a messy multi-tasker, a foodie, and struggles with her idea of perfection. You'd be beyond proud of Kaylee; she still shines in photos and is making it in the big city!  She is thoughtful, loves theatre, has an amazing sense of humor, and writes and interviews like a pro.  Her posts, tweets, and podcasts keep us all amused.

I've talked many times about how much I miss you as evidenced by this Father's Day post from 2010 and 2016 version and this birthday post from 2016. You are missed. Damn that cancer.

Today as we celebrate my husband with a delicious brunch I'll be thinking of you, wishing you were here at the table with us, touching my hair, and throwing me that smile that tells me everything is going to be okay.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Goodness it's June


It's hot and sticky; feels like August and yet it's the beginning of summer. I've traveled twice to Indiana to work in the bakery.  Fun but hot and sweaty and not as profitable as we thought. You win some, you lose some. The donuts were still amazing as was the strawberry rhubarb pie. I'm very happy to be home though in my own little abode with my relaxing backyard. I took a nap, a bath, and then read in the hammock in that order after I pulled into my driveway.

I'm making preparations for Father's Day Brunch at my house for my husband. Kids will be here and I need to make a combination of vegan and non vegan food. So standard fare is pretty easy; scrambled farm eggs (I still have a good supply from a farmer/teacher friend) and bacon for the dad; grits, fruit, and vegan waffles for the diary-free, vegetarian crew. I also found a recipe for vegan cinnamon rolls so I'm thinking of making those also. With all that bread-iness filling the table I'm going to balance with lots of fresh fruit.

Of course, we are beginning the day with a Bloody Mary bar and so the meal will be necessary to combat all that vodka. How else do you really make fathers feel special than to liquor them up before breakfast? I know my handsome husband will be happy to enjoy this day of rest in his otherwise crazy busy schedule.

How is the beginning of your summer?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

3 amazing reads all in a row.


1. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood ( 1998): You enter the sterile and odd world of The Handmaid's Tale and you get an eery feeling like you should look over your shoulder.  While this seems so far removed from our world now, it feels like it would only take about 2 steps backwards to be in Atwood's world. For those that haven't read The Handmaid's Tale it relays the events of a woman, Offred, of child-bearing years who's been pulled from her own life and inserted into another family in order to bear an older man's child(ren).  The change from one life to the next happens slowly but also in a blink of an eye.  Imagine in your life time that you could live one moment with your husband and beautiful child; only to be repurposed in a retraining camp where you learn to surrender your will to this next family.  There are so many details of this new life mixed with her memories of before. If you like dystopian or politics; this is a fantastic read. I stayed up way too late each night to read just a little more. Other days I slammed the book down in disgust. I am searching for the original movie with Natasha Richardson (it's not on Netflix or Amazon Prime) before I start streaming the new Hulu series. Here is a great NYT article by Atwood herself discussing her novel.


2. A man called Ove by Fredrik Backman (2014): I am watching this one Amazon Prime.  The book was an amazingly funny read. I laughed out loud many times and when I neared the end of this sweet tale I cried. I love a book that brings about that much emotion. Ove is a curmudgeon at best; an absolute old grump and yet we love him for it because he emerges a changed man. Even when he's at his worst he's an interesting character. Ove is ready to end his life, ready to join his beautiful Sonja in the afterworld. He even thinks about what he should wear so she'll be happy when she sees him coming through the pearly gates.  The unexpected happens though when a new family moves in next door and the wife pulls Ove into her own life. All the hype about this book is true.


3. This side of home by Renee Watson (2015): This is a delightful tale about two twins, Nikki and Maya, living in Portland with intellectual parents surrounding them with love. What is ever-changing though is their neighborhood which is being gentrified rapidly and their high school as well. The neighborhood, high school, friends and family all provide a wonderful backdrop to the life experience of Nikki and Maya as they learn to accept each other as more than just a reflection of each other. My one and only complaint is about the cover; neither girl has the loose hair of the girl pictured on the front. She's brown-a good start-#weneeddiversebooks BUt it would be a reflection of the character if her hair was braided.  Maya repeatedly talks about her hair in braids down her back; Nikki with pressed hair and sometimes loose and free. Neither girl is represented by the photo on the cover except by skin color. #rant

Now I'm reading Bill Browder's Red Notice for book club. I'm not a fan of nonfiction but his tale of intrigue has me reading.  I also just finished this short article about White Fragility that's worth reading. Someone sent it to me to remind me of a conversation we had about Ta'Nehisi Coates' book.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Happy, Happy Weekend!


I love a long weekend.  I even gifted myself an extra day by taking a personal day on Friday. I had lunch with a former student at the school where I used to teach and watched part of their talent show. I also had a late lunch/early dinner with my husband at a new local place. I purposely did not make many plans for this weekend - I could tell I need to replenish and revive myself with a little down time so I can begin this last week of school with joy.


Today I started my day at the farmers market.  It is a vibrant and lively place with as many crafty stops as farmers selling wares. I picked up asparagus, radishes, and a bag of salad greens. As I finished my errands today I spotted a new Filipino food truck by our local dairy store.  I stopped and bought enough to feed people at home.  My fish taco was amazing-super spicy- and Groovy Girl and my husband finished up the chicken, rice, and noodles I'd picked out for them.


Tonight I'm making a dirty rice recipe for dinner. My husband bought some steaks wrapped in bacon at Aldi - he just does not fully embrace my idea that meat I eat needs to be locally grown/organic.  I'm not eatin' one of those steaks but the dirty rice and grilled vegetables will be delicious and enough for me. I found the recipe at Bob's Red Mill website.  I had to go out and search for TSP and wonder if I'll like this additional protein or if I can leave it out next time.

{I spotted these pretty chickens today}
The weather is amazing right now. A little rain here and there but yesterday was a brilliant sunshine yellow.  I look forward to seeing what the next two days bring...

What's everyone else cooking this holiday weekend?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ugh! I'm back.


Google, Blogger, and I have a love/hate triangle going on right now. This is the second or third time I've been locked out of my peacefulreader blog. I pay for a domain name and somehow about a year ago Google decided that all paying domains would be part of G-Suite and it's been nothing but trouble for me. In other words it's not hitting my sweet spot.

Tonight, while I do have homework and a good book to read, I felt the need to solve the problem. I'm tired but it suddenly dawned on me that somehow it was not "reading" my G-Suite admin account.  I tried a few more times to log in with no luck.  One of our school techie's advice is about turning the computers off, really off. So I logged everyone off my laptop, which should NOT be a family computer but is, and shut the whole thing down. While I was logging off it seems that Groovy Girl had herself logged in on a second Google page with Netflix up as well.  So even though I was logging myself in as myself and then also as an administrator it was not really logging me in.  The thread of her was being pulled from another page.

Once I turned the whole system back on and logged myself back in it didn't even ask for the admin information it just let me back in.  Whew. I feel so much better, less out of touch. Speaking of being in tough, I've spent the last two nights watching movie with Anton.


Gold with Matthew McConaughey and Will Smith in Collateral Beauty were two very thoughtful and exciting films. We've been having a conversation in our house about gaming, movies, and books - different kinds of entertainment. I'm not a fan of gaming-it leaves me flat-although the one time of the year that I enjoy having a controller in my hand is at Christmas when Kaylee, Tristan, Greg, and I compete in heated games of Jeopardy. Most people that love gaming find the idea of this silly but we have so much fun. 


A movie or a book can help you see a bigger picture, give you empathy, make you laugh, or think, or dream. Same with a book. Video games are only going through repetitive motions.  And even streaming shows can now get to an addictive phase I still think the lure of gaming for hours on end can be harmful. Those that are avid video gamers can probably argue this with me.  I'll take a book or movie for entertainment any time.

I have a whole 'nother post I was working on about The Handmaid's Tale before the shut out occurred. I'll get back to that in a day or two. We have dance recital this Saturday-that's an all-day event.  And I'm working on grading library assignments and assessments in between teaching classes and adding in new books.  I was able to spend the last of my budget money on a trip to our local Barnes and Noble last night.  It was incredible-especially as kids pawed through the 2 boxes today looking at treasures.  Seven of the books now have sticky notes denoting who gets what first.  The joy of book lovers!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

May Flowers


We've just returned from a lovely little road trip north to see my brother for his birthday. He lives in a suburb with a beautiful lake and today we went out in his boat for a long ride along the shore looking at the amazing architecture. I love being on the lake, the wind, the smell, the sounds, the feeling of skimming over the water. We saw a muskrat, a loon, and many sailboats catching the breeze. It was chilly so we were wrapped in coats, blankets and hats. It was a perfect way to spend a Sunday morning, communing with nature.

On Saturday night we traveled the few minutes to downtown for drinks and dinner. We parked near an old hangout of mine, Runyon's, so we stopped in, had a drink, and watched the Kentucky Derby.  Then we went around the corner for dinner at 112 Eatery.  I'd never eaten here before but would go again. The food was delicious. I had a carrot and sweet pea risotto with Humboldt fog. I had to look it up but Humboldt fog is a cheese. The combo was amazing and I'm a little sad I left my to-go container in the their fridge. We also enjoyed the Tres Leches cake and a Key Lime Pie with coconut. Dessert is my favorite. Anton was with us and he enjoyed people watching and trying new foods/drinks with us.

I spent the ride home reading and sleeping.  I started The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. It's been on a stack by my bed for a few years and now with the new series I picked it up right after I finished Zadie Smith's The Autograph Man.  I like Zadie Smith's writing but I had trouble feeling anything for the main character, Alex-Li.  The Handmaid's Tale, on the other hand, has me reading quickly. It's a bit creepy and a lot of back and forth to learn the past and the present of the story. I've also never seen the actual movie starring Natasha Richardson and Faye Dunaway.  So that is on my massive to-do list.

Happy May everyone!  Enjoy and celebrate the sun.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Recipes + Books

That's what it's really all about.

I made a lovely dinner a few nights ago after dance.  I had extra ricotta cheese from our big shells recipe and after a quick search I found this Lemony Ricotta Pasta (from The Kitchn). Groovy Girl loved it. She is working on eating less cheese/dairy and certain items seemed to trigger more. Ricotta cheese doesn't seem to be a problem. Pizza, though, huge problem much to her huge dismay!

I had to laugh today as I discovered this post from long ago (2014) as I searched for a pie crust recipe for my mother. Good to know we like what we like!! Do take a moment to click back; it's worth it.

This was not a stellar reading month for me. Only two books. I did watch all of Season 1 and 2 of The 100, a dystopian drama series.  I highly recommend it but it did get in the way of my reading.


1. Piecing me together by Renee Watson (2017)- What a gorgeous cover that is. I want to know that young woman. Jade struggles with the two worlds she is part of; one with her mother where there are never enough money or groceries at the apartment she shares with her mother and uncle. Jade attends a private high school on a scholarship and she pushes herself to take every opportunity to get ahead. When she is asked to be part of a new Woman to Woman mentor program she starts to see clearly what she wants from her life even as her mentor struggles with her own path.  Jade's character is strong with an artistic flair. Renee Watson has a few other books out that I am now interested in. Jade's coming-of-age tale of friendship, survival, finding your own wings should be enjoyed by many.


2. The Autography Man by Zadie Smith (2002)- As I've carried this book around to dance classes, church, coffee shops, and brew pubs over the last few weeks I've had many ask me how I like the book. My answer has been the same; weird.  The autograph man is Alex-Li Tandem and he is drifting through life, drugs and alcohol are his entertainment, and his friends are merely bystanders as Alex messes one thing up after another, including his long-term relationship with Ester.  On a buying trip to NYC through a chance encounter he meets the woman of his dreams. She's now 70 but he loves her anyway. As he makes plans to bring Kitty Alexander back to England with him, it's unknown whether this will help him recoup the life he's wasted. It's an interesting journey. I like Zadie's writing.  I'm just not sure I feel invested in the autograph man's story.

I'm really ready for May. And some warmer weather.  Although after seeing this photo sent to me yesterday by a Colorado relative I'm glad I'm not there. It only feels like winter here.





Wednesday, April 26, 2017

It's a crazy time of year...

Work is crazy-good-but crazy. I have a new library assistant and it has been amazingly fun to work with her, train her, and watch her work and develop relationships with our students. I have 4 boxes of new books from Follett and several boxes from Scholastic to process and add to the collection. We've had several big school events that our group of leadership ambassadors have been part of and that just takes work from me to organize. It's inspiring to work with them and pushes me in new directions but it's challenging to add that to my already busy library tasks.

{Groovy Girl - 9th grade formal ready}
Home is crazy because dance is on extreme mode as we approach the end of May recital. We have costumes to attend to, tickets, pictures, makeup, pasties to buy. We also shopped for a 9th grade formal dress/shoes and that was a whole fun shopping night. We found beautiful shoes and an on-sale dress that matched and were perfect. Groovy Girl is going with a group of free-spirited girls and a few boys are tagging along with them. One (girl)friend will wear a suit of some sort, another a pair of sparkly Chucks with her dress, a few have dates, but most are just going to be together, dance, and have fun.

Home is also crazy because my husband has three different plays going on and is working with 1st graders at a local school.  Plus he's building a structure in our backyard to house a special new family pet. This enclosure has been time-consuming but it looks so beautiful. He had to take out our garden plot to build this so this year I will try gardening in the front yard plot plus some containers on the patio.
{Beauty uncovered}
We will soon celebrate Teenage Boy's birthday-he'll be 22 on Friday. No longer a teenage boy anymore but that lives on in my mind. We are celebrating together at an Italian restaurant in Marion. We will come bearing gifts fit for a 22 -year-old college student. He and his girlfriend took a quick trip, for a family wedding, to one of our favorite states-Colorado.

Anton is doing really well and has worked with a local organization that helps at-risk young adults return to school. He's put in an application for Hawkeye Community College.  That was a happy day. There is still a long uphill journey to go but at least we started out.
{Colorado Trip}