Category Archives: Books

6 months ago

Six months ago, this happened.

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6 MONTHS ago! Someone quoted this to me the other day` “These are some of the longest days of your life, but the shortest years.” I couldn’t agree more, and a year hasn’t even passed yet. I can think of a handful of the ‘longest days’ part.

Like when Gabby got croup the first time- I was sure she was having an allergic reaction at 11:30 at night, and medical help never seemed so far away. Thankfully it was just a cough, but time went by really slow that night!

Or even the first day we had her- she choked in the hospital, and panic swept over me like a blanket depriving me of air. A nurse rushed in, pounded Gabs on the back firmly, and reassured me {while I bawled} that I would be able to handle it when I went home with her.

Or that first week we had her home- when I woke up to feed her for the third time that night and was so groggy that I bundled up a BLANKET and took it to the nursery to feed it, while leaving my precious daughter fast asleep in her bassinet.

Long days? Yes, they were.

But those days are totally worth it- because most days are like this.

She is my sunshine, in summary. She is the happiest, most talkative little sweetheart. She’s curious, a fast learner, and loves to jump! She’s sitting up, babbling, and a TOTAL daddy’s girl. To celebrate her 6 month (half) birthday, today we are getting pedicures with a friend, frozen yogurt and baby food with grandma, and hopefully going to the gym for the first time in 6 months!!

Happy Monday!

~M

P.S. The husband and I are going to try a {mostly} vegetarian month of September- any vegetarian recipes you want to share with us would be greatly appreciated!

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Coffee Date and Les Misérables

Sorry for M and I being more absent than usual. We are both experiencing some technical difficulties with our Internet, so we are communicating on this blog 100% via our phones. I thought I was tech savvy til now. Ha! We’ll see how this goes.
Mom, Linds, M, and I have decided to do a book club this summer and read Les Misérables ‘together’. We have all seen the old movie, most of us (everyone except me) have seen the new movie, and none of us have read the book. Coming from a family of ‘the book is always better than the movie’, this is kind of illegal- so! We are reading. And discussing. And the first discussion was so cool!
For any of you who do not know the story of Les Mis- Jean Valjean is a good man who served 20 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. He is released from prison, but cannot find honest work anywhere. Valjean receives mercy from a very humble and truly godly bishop only to be pursued for the rest of his life by a so called ‘godly’ man named Javert.
Since this was the first meeting, we got sidetracked sitting outside Starbucks just catching up on each others news and also got into a conversation with a man walking by who was telling people about the mission he is running for men and he asked what Les Mis was about. After mom explained it, he said,’ it’s kind of like a parable isn’t it? An earthly story with a heavenly message.’ And it’s true! The first chapters cover nothing but how the bishop came to be such a disciple of Christ, and such a humble man, and we each had different views of it but we were all amazed at how this man chose to have absolutely nothing in order to give everything to those who needed it. Made us reevaluate our needs and wants a bit. Funny how ‘stuff’ we think we need and ‘stuff’ we think will solve all our problems can get in the way of doing what God has planned for us.
I think this book reading and discussing is the start of a really good thing…can’t wait to see what we learn next!
😉
~K
P.s. a man walking down the sidewalk with two 7 week old pit bulls allllmost had Lindsey convinced she’s an animal person. Allllmost.

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The Plum Tree by Ellen Wiseman

I feel like all the book reviews I’ve done have started with ‘This is the best book ever! Read it!’. But it’s so truuuuuue! This one was a great, great book. It’s a love story between a German girl and a Jewish boy living in Germany during World War II….and it just totally sucked me in. Isaac and Christine are falling in love just as the war is starting and very soon their world is shattered by all the new laws separating the Jews from the rest of the world. The story follows Christine throughout the entire war, and the ending was completely not at all what I had expected. I listened to it through my  Audible account while I was at work which was, let me tell you, a huge mistake. Everyone knows you don’t listen to World War II love stories in public, let alone while working. Naturally, I cried. I can just see Linds rolling her eyes at my lack of control over my emotions. 😉

I’m already listening to a new book, ‘The End of the Affair’ which is written by Graham Greene and narrated by Colin Firth. Totally chose is cuz Colin Firth narrated it. I’ll letcha know how it is 🙂

Anyways! I’m off to make some Brie Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms wrapped in Bacon for a Girl’s Night that I’m hosting, so I need to get moving. Keep your eyes out for this recipe, if it turns out as well as Bacon Wrapped Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese I will be a very happy girl. And maybe M and I will figure out a name for these things that flows a little smoother off the tongue…I’ve tried it both ways as you can see and my tongue gets tied every time.

Happy Reading!

~K

 

 

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Cleaning House

Starting the summer off with the wedding of my cousin (who is has also been one of my best friends since I moved to California) is probably going to be really hard to beat! The wedding itself was beautiful- Ashley has a way of making her visions come to life, and this was no exception. It looked like a fairy tale!!! I’m waiting for pictures to be posted because I, dork that I am, barely took any photos at all. We’ll have to rely on M for those.
As M mentioned, last weekend was also baby sisters graduation from high school. Not sure how I feel about that yet….
…happy that she’s done with high school?
…excited that she gets to start college?
….I feel really old? (Maybe)
….feel like she should still be collecting rocks and playing tea party with Kool-Aid and Cheerios?
that’s it.

Ah well. We all have to grow up eventually. 😉 I’m sure Linds feels like we wish she’d be 4 forever! Hehe…;)

I started off my summer after wedding and graduation by tackling my toilet. Sorry for the face plant into my reality, but there ya go. My home suffered during this past semester so it is now time for spring cleaning! And it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. For years I have tried to use a pumice stone- never again. Drywall sanding screens are the only thing that even made a dent and my toilet bowl looks brand new. I’d post a picture, but I forgot to do a ‘before’ shot and I feel like that might be too much info for one post. You’re welcome. 🙂
~K
P.s. here’s two pics of two cuties just cuz it’s Thursday.

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Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Between having a new niece, a new second cousin (!! It’s baby season, ya’ll!!), friends, school, work, and housework, I am getting to be one cranky lady by about Wednesday afternoon. I simply cannot stretch myself thinly enough to do everything I want to do, and it can drive me batty. I’m sure you understand. We all do this in some way- say yes to everything, because ‘everything’ is stuff we want to do, and end up going crazy because there’s not enough hours in the day.

It’s all about- I’m gonna be cliche- taking time to stop and smell the roses. Or, in my case, wiggling my toes in freshly mown grass.

**pedicure courtesy of M, who treated me to a 'me' day, cuz she's psychic or something

**pedicure courtesy of M, who treated me to a ‘me’ day, cuz she’s psychic or something

Also, I’ve been listening to K-Love on the radio lately and trying to make it more of a habit- and I love what it’s doing for my attitude. I’m sure some of you understand- the ‘on-the-go’ nature of  life can suck you dry, but having a radio station dedicated to awesome worship music and talk on how to live a God-centered life in a self-centered world has made a huge difference for me….I highly suggest turning your radio channel if you haven’t already.

And I started reading Blue Like Jazz again. If none of you have read it- make the time to do it. It’s by Donald Miller, and it is a phenomenal book on how to be a Christian today…

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It’s so crazy how much more calm I feel when I take more (nonexistent) time out of my day to focus on what’s important (God and family), time suddenly seems to slow just a bit, life seems a little brighter, and graduation doesn’t seem quite so far away.

Coffee dates with my momma also help.

🙂

~K

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: The Giver

I needed a quick read this past weekend, something to sit down with and just relax and not get sucked into. So I re-read The Giver, by Lois Lowry. If you never had to read it in high school, I highly suggest it! It’s another of my favorites.

 

 

The Giver Photo

It’s a story about a community where there is no color, no sense of love or family, and there are no memories of a world where there they had any of those things. By choosing ‘sameness’, this community believes they can avoid strife completely- family ‘units’ are selected by a committee, live in a dwelling together, and separate when the children grow and are selected for their own family units. Career paths are chosen for each person by another committee who judge each person’s aptitude. All aspects of life are viewed on a basis of usefulness and efficiency rather than emotions and personal choices. The story follows a boy named Jonas who, when it is his turn to be chosen for a career path, is selected to be the community’s next Receiver of Memory- a rare selection. The Receiver of Memory holds all past memories of the world- love and hate, war and famine, colors and music, none of which is known by anyone but the Receiver. He is a part of the community only to hold these memories in order to aid the committees with his wisdom of past times when they come across a problem they do not know how to solve. This story deals with Jonas discovering that his utopian world is actually dystopian- and coming to realize that he will have to choose his path on his own for the first time in his life. 

It’s quite a short book, and perfect for a little bit of light reading with some really amazing insights to living an imperfect world.

Enjoy!

~K

P.S. Goes really well with a good cup of coffee and some of M’s Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies…..

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Books.

I don’t have a shoe fetish. My closet is quite small. I enjoy cooking, but I don’t venture into the unknown with expensive ingredients. But I have just come to terms with the fact that books are my guilty pleasure. It’s almost ridiculous, the amount of access I have to books in my house. Or let’s be honest now, on my phone, in my purse, car, or at work. I always have a book on my person in some way, shape or form. I. Love. Reading.

Our Grandpa used to record himself reading Hank the Cowdog  books (incidentally, I just discovered Hank the Cowdog has a WEBSITE?! Awesome.) when we were younger because we lived so far away. He’d send us stacks of tapes  and we’d fall asleep listening to them every single night. So that’s where my Audible account really comes into good use. Even now, I still fall asleep listening to books 🙂 So that’s the audio version of my book addiction.

M has been after me to get a Kindle, but until recently, I have stuck to my guns, maintaining that I love the feel of a real book in my hands. The smell (I’m weird, I know. Sorry.), the act of sitting in a comfy chair with a really good page turner (that I physically have to turn the pages of) just has that tingle running up my spine already. But I will concede now that there is something nice about having a compact way to carry a book around! I do not have a Kindle, but I recently joined the smartphone world and realized- there’s an app for that! 😉 So I caved. And it’s awesome. (Currently, I’m reading The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley. I’m loving it! Stand by for a review.) So that’s the virtual version of my book addiction.

This most recent story starts Wednesday. So I didn’t check my email before going to class. As a long-time college student, I should know better. However, I didn’t check it, so when I got to class….there was no class. And three hours to burn before my next class. A few friends have been telling me about this marvelous second hand bookstore, so I decided to give it a try. Here comes the physical book addiction part of my addiction. It is very nearly PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE for me to enter a bookstore and not purchase something. Especially if the store in question is very cheap, huge, and organized, and extraordinarily well-stocked with books that are in great condition. And accepts credit cards (which a lot of smaller second hand bookstores do not).

The Book Barn (Clovis, CA) (They also have a website)

Downstairs, looking up

Upstairs, looking down

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I texted this pic to M right away and her response was hilarious- ‘Are you in heaven?’ Haha…but seriously.

I ended up looking in the Children’s section (Auntie K mode kicking in) for books I loved when I was younger and I found so many! I had to hold back (I do have some restraint) but I got some of the best…..and some others that I haven’t read yet.

about $25 worth of books!

I have found a treasure chest in this store….$96.00 worth of books, and I paid $25.00. Makes it even better!

So. that is the story of my book addiction. I could have worse ones…..right? 🙂

-K

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Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

READ IT!

Guys…this book is fantastic. I will admit that I do tend to judge a book by its cover and, initially, this was one of those. I liked the shade of blue, and I love golden retrievers (that is to say, I love the idea of golden retrievers), so this book caught my eye. Then, when I read the first few pages I totally got sucked in! That’s the key for me. If I find myself wondering about what I’m going to make for dinner while I’m ‘test-reading’ a book, I end up putting it back. But when I find myself thinking ‘Eh, Curtis can make dinner tonight….I’m just gonna read’, then I know it’s a keeper. 🙂

The part about this book that makes it special is that it’s written in the dog’s voice. You’re seeing the story of a family from beginning to end from Enzo’s perspective. And it is fantastically perceptive. I don’t have a dog, I kind of have half a cat (a stray that hangs around because Curtis feeds her but she won’t let us touch her…?), so I wasn’t sure if this story about ‘man’s best friend’ would affect me, but it did. Enzo has all kinds of theories on life and what an amazing human he would be if he comes back in his next life as a human. You see the duality of his mind as he behaves like a dog (greeting other dogs by sniffing each other) and then uses his knowledge gathered from various TV stations to comment with surprising insight on why the lack of opposable thumbs and a voice are the only thing separating him from being an ‘amazing’ human. I found myself viewing animals in a different way- I know they don’t think like we do, but I do sometimes forget that they are living things. It was emotional to read, because there is such love between Enzo and his owner, Denny, and when conflicts unfold and emotions run high in the book I find myself wishing Enzo really had a voice so Denny could truly understand the loyalty he had in his ‘best friend’.

All in all, I highly recommend this book. It’s a great relaxing read that’s perfect to take on a vacation or read slowly when you have time.

Just to warn you though- If you don’t have a dog, you’ll want one by the time you’re done. If you do have a dog, you’re going to look at him/her differently (in a good way). I may have shed a tear or two while reading. But that’s just how I am- I’m that person that forgets that characters in books aren’t real, and I totally immerse myself in what I read.

Definitely a feel-good book.

Enjoy!

-K

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Trip to San Francisco

San Francisco is probably one of my favorite places to visit. There is so much to do there! Curtis and I went to visit my dad in SF a couple weeks ago for a belated Father’s Day visit and we did a ton of stuff! Dad knows all the places we like to go, and this visit was no exception 🙂

First we grabbed some lunch at Barracuda, a sushi place. I don’t even remember what all the different rolls were that we ordered, but there was a little of everything!

Dad and I shared…YUM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curtis’ Bento Box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After sushi, I dragged the boys to FLAX. The best art supply store I have ever been to. It’s huge!

When you walk in, this is what you see…It’s a huge warehouse!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the paper room. JUST the paper room!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stacks and stacks of sketchbooks……:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could wander in here for hours! However, I did not. 🙂

After Flax, we ducked into a used bookstore while dad checked on some work stuff, and then grabbed a beer after. I love used bookstores!

*sigh*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yep. That’s a cat. Sleeping in a box of books. And no, I did not put that book there. Haha!

 

 

Ohh he makes me laugh 🙂 his ‘pensive’ pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little (HUGE!) gift from my dad that we found in the bookstore…

I cannot wait to cook from this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ever since seeing Julie & Julia, and reading My Life in France by Julia Child, I have wanted to try some French recipes! Boeuf Bourguinon….Beef stew. I would eat this even on day when its 110 degrees outside. Well, maybe not quite that hot, but you get my drift. Anyways, dad got this for me on the condition that I cook whatever he wants from it next time he comes to our house! Deal.

After the bookstore, we visited this crazy little shop called Paxton Gate. They have some taxidermy, weird plants, cool books and it’s just a little ‘treasure store’.

Curtis and a unicorn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crazy teeth! Not going in a lake for awhile.

 

 

Lastly, but definitely not least, we went to a Giants game!

Dad and me! Excuse my huge sleeve taking up the bulk of this photo. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FANTASTICALLY close seats 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curtis and me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a fantastic day, traipsing all over the city and spending time together. It’d been six months since we’d visited dad, so a trip was looong over due. All in all, it was probably the most fun day off Curtis and I have had in a long time 🙂

-K

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Bedside Books: The Good Earth

This book has been in my “Top 5” category for the past ten years. Possibly even “Top 3”. The Good Earth is one of a few books that has had a place on my bedside table since I was in Jr. High. I don’t know what it is about those books on my table- its almost like I can’t fall asleep unless I know I have the option of re-reading one of them.

I don’t know why K and I both love to re-read books- I mean, there are so many books out there that you could probably read for the rest of your life and never have to re-read anything. Come to think of it, I can think of a book about that very concept!! See what I mean? There’s really no excuse to re-read things. Yet, we do. And I think we do have some good reasons.

The Good Earth is the life story of a poor farmer in China before World War II. His father gives Wang Lung a freed slave as a wife, and together, they bear the brunt of living a hand to mouth existence. However, through hard work and frugality the couple manages to enlarge their property and make a better life for themselves. The story continues with it’s ups and downs as famine and drought force them to leave their home and ride the ‘firewagon’ to an unknown city to find work. Wang Lung’s wife and children are forced to turn to begging while Wang Lung pulls a rickshaw to feed his family. He longs to return to his land to continue farming, and worries that his children will grow up as thieves because they steal to feed themselves.

His life takes another drastic turn when Wang Lung unwillingly joins a mob that is looting a  rich man’s house. Wang lung manages to escape with enough gold to bring his family back home and start a new life. From then on, his sons grow up and Wang Lung faces the new difficulty of living a wealthy life and all of its hidden thorns.

Pearl S. Buck is an amazing author, and I highly recommend this book to all. If you have been looking for that next ‘Argh I can’t put it down!!’ book, I promise you , this is it. It is historical fiction, and its voice is a little different that most books today because it takes place in the early 1900’s.

You’re gonna love it, guys. Go grab a cold drink, sit in a shady spot outside, and enjoy.

~M

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