Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Synopsis: Three women in 1963 Jackson, Mississippi couldn't possibly be living more different lives. Aibileen, a black maid and nurse for the white Leefolt family has raised seventeen white children. Skeeter, a twenty-two year old white woman returns home after graduating from college to discover that life in Jackson is not what she once thought. And Minny is another black maid and mother of five known for her wonderful cooking and mouthy attitude. These women decide to work on a project so socially offensive, that it literally endangers their lives. This is the story of each of these women, their work together and the strange kinship that blooms between them.
Readability: Not the easiest read. The dialect is challenging, to say the least, and this book is surprisingly long. Or maybe it just felt that way since there were so many words on every single page. (If you read it, you will understand exactly what I mean.)
Predictability: We know what happens in the South in the early sixties, we know how race relations were in Jackson, Mississippi at that time, but that is ALL that is predictable. I was so drawn in and so in love with each of the characters, that it was as if they were real, and just like in real life, you just never know what's around the corner.
Couldn't Put it Down Factor: Here's the thing. This book is completely heart-wrenching. Every word tugs at your heart. It was so intense at times that I longed to put it down just to get a break, only to spend the time I wasn't reading, thinking about what I was missing. To me this is the mark of a truly wonderful novel: it feels as if it lives and breathes on its own, and when you put it down, you are taking the chance of missing something.
Recommend it?: Y.E.S. Hands down, one of the best books I have read in a long time. Perhaps ever. And I've read a lot of books. This novel was gentle, delicate, gut-wrenchingly sad, at times laugh-out-loud funny, and the kind of thing you fall in love with so deeply that you want to wrap it up and protect it under your coat. I admit, I have a thing for historical fiction, but the way Stockett has woven these women's lives together, yet kept them completely separate is, I believe, something to behold. I cried, I laughed, I feared for their lives and safety, I celebrated their victories, and was completely drawn into Southern culture with all the intensity of a Mississippi summer and surprise one-liners of an author who knows we need a break, even if it's only for just a second.
Five out of five stars. No question. I would read it again if I thought I could handle it. Clean language and some violence, though not graphic.
Go out and get it today. Do not stop. Do not pass go.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

That's totally the same.

This St. Patrick's Day, we have a bit of advice when it comes to artificially green-colored beers: Just say no.
Instead, start a new, healthier tradition—sipping spinach through a straw.

Thanks, Bally Weekly Newsletter. Sounds delish.  

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

A neverending source of joy.

Last week, I was changing Baby Richard's diaper when he reached between his legs and grabbed his Little Gentleman.
His entire face lit up and he looked at me as if to say, "Did you know this was here?!"
Yes. I knew.
I love him.

I did not post this at the BabyBlog. There's a reason for that.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Food for thought.

Dieting via text message.

Lauren: I don't want to go to the gym.
Erin: You should go. I want to lose two pounds this week. I'm on drive thru lockdown.
Lauren: What if you run through the drive thru?
Erin: See you there at 5:30.
Lauren: K.

Food Mill

Non-mommy readers: I'm sorry, but this extra long post will probably bore you.

Mothers of more than one son: How do you afford to feed them?!?
My boy eats like it's going out of style. Like there's no tomorrow. Like every meal may be his last. I'm starting to think that he would be content to sit in his high chair all day long as long as I offered him food every ten minutes.
As you can imagine, I've been giving a lot of money to Gerber in order to sustain this growing boy, so I thought I might try something new.
A couple of weeks ago I went out and bought a food mill. I steamed (the heck out of) 6-8 carrots (peels on) and two enormous sweet potatoes (peeled). I then ran them through the food mill and froze them in one ounce portions, which just happen to fit perfectly in ice cube trays. *I am the first mother in the world to think of this.*

Once frozen, I popped them out and put them in two-ounce portions in air-tight containers. They now reside in the freezer. 30 seconds in the microwave and Richard has a meal so filling he can hardly eat an additional jar of fruit (though he TRIES).
I think baby food companies must add quite a bit of water to their food to get a texture that appeals to Baby. Richard was indeed very sad the first time I offered him this new food. I think the issue is texture. I've found that if I add just a little water and a little cereal, it is a lot more palatable to him and he gobbles it up.
The whole project cost me about $3 and two hours (beside the $10 for the food mill). I can't believe I haven't been doing this all along. I ended up with sixteen meals for the Bairn, which alone has been worth the effort. By my calculations, 16 jarred baby food *meals* (at two jars per meal) cost approximately $16, or more, depending on the day. I sincerely wish I had been doing this for the last six months! Now he's almost a year old and about ready to give up baby food! I wanted to post about it so that other mommies don't waste time and money like I did! I will be doing another batch in the next week, and I saw green beans at Aldi last week, so we'll see how that goes. I also have some radishes in the fridge that need to be eaten up. But would that be mean? :) Mixed with cauliflower? Or carrots? I think he'd dig it. I have also used the food mill on things like chicken and wild rice soup. He LOVED it. I still buy jars for going out and green veggies and fruits. At this time of year, green vegetables and most fruits are not cost effective to do myself. And for when we are eating away from home, the convenience of pre-jarred baby food is totally worth it to me.
Have any of my readers done this? I'm open to tips and ideas.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The checkout lady said it happens all the time.

Last night, Shirley and I went on an adventure to buy a snail for Fishmael's tank.
We had a great time looking at all the fishies, rats, mice, snakes and hamsters at the pet store.
We made our purchases and cruised back around to look at the fish one more time and Shirley promptly wet her pants.
One minute we were watching the eels dance and the next minute she was walking around like a little cowgirl.
I thought it might be a cold ride home for Shirley, but she cheerfully told me all about while sitting on a plastic bag and some paper towels, munching on a dog cookie.