Thursday, January 29, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

Because I'm exceedingly lazy, my post today is from my facebook account, where I was tagged for a facebook meme to share 25 random things. So I'm stealing it for my blog today, and tough noogies to all of you who are my facebook friends as well as blog readers!

1. I was going to skip this, but it seems like EVERYONE is doing this and I've been tagged a bunch. Aren't you all so happy I've decided to go along with the crowd? Now let's just see if I can get up to 25!

2. I'm making awesome Chicken Tortilla Soup for dinner.

3. I was quite tall as a child but am now a completely average 5'6". I wish I was taller. Before kids, I used to wear unreasonably high heels all the time, and people would be shocked to find out I wasn't tall.

4. I met TK at a Super Bowl party when I was a senior in high school. My boyfriend at the time introduced us.

5. TK lived upstairs from me in the dorm my freshman year of college. He remembered me from the Super Bowl party. We started dating within a month of when I started college.

6. I always thought I'd have twins. Perhaps having a twin for a mom and twin brother and sister had something to do with my psychic prediction.

7. In a high school talent show, I danced as Lola to Barry Manilow's Copa Cabana. My more talented friends sang. Believe me, we were all glad I didn't.

8. I've defined "normal" as similar to me. Therefore, I am the most normal person I know.

9. I blog at I chose "what a card" as my online handle because a) TK and I collect playing cards, and b) I'm ridiculously funny...such a card.

10. Okay, to clarify that "ridiculously funny", *I* think I'm ridiculously funny, but it turns out I'm my best audience. Fine. My only audience. When I told my parents I thought I could be a standup comic, they both looked at me like I was crazy. They didn't laugh.

11. I play my kids' webkinz account. Sometimes when they're sleeping.

12. I'm yet another over educated stay at home mom. I have a BA in Psychology, BS in Accounting, and MEd in Elementary Ed. Can anyone say "unfocused"?

13. I've written two novels. One terrible and to be hidden forever, one slightly more promising with just a rough draft finished two months ago.

14. I played soccer in high school, where my biggest skill was having no fear for my own personal safety. And missing the net by a mile. Oh, and butt checks.

15. I've always wanted to grow a vegetable garden. We've tried a number of times, and never had ANYTHING make it to ripe. Some track record, huh? And that's why we joined a CSA!

16. When TK finished grad school, we took a three week vacation driving across the country. It was so much fun, and we're planning to do it again someday with our kids. Very Clark Griswold.

17. When we were thinking up names before the boys were born, I kept suggesting characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, leading TK to enact the "No Names From Buffy" rule of naming our children.

18. I met many of my good college friends at a scavenger hunt during orientation. I remember it was lots of fun, but I have no memory of if we won or lost or what we even scavenged.

19. I was the editor of my high school yearbook (along with my friend Maggie). We had such an awesome time doing it...working until all hours, dancing on tables, having pica wars, planning parties for when we met deadlines, etc. Along with soccer and track, it was my favorite part of high school.

20. I've discovered in the past 5 years or so that I really enjoy cooking. Prior to that, I hated it. Sometimes it makes me wonder if I was reprogrammed without my knowledge. This past summer I wrote for a vegetarian cooking blog, which was pretty funny since I'm not a vegetarian. I was always worried I'd post a picture of a recipe with bacon in it, or something that used chicken broth.

21. I'm allergic to chalk dust. And it's not just a fun asthma trigger, it also causes conjunctivitis. Yep, you can get pink eye from allergies! My crap immune system + a chalk dust allergy = Me being sick nearly constantly for the two years I taught elementary school.

22. If I had enough black clothes, I'd wear black every day.

23. I tore my MCL playing indoor soccer six weeks before my wedding. I did major PT and managed to be off crutches in time to walk down the aisle. It still hurt a lot, especially on our honeymoon doing things like biking down a mountain or hiking up a waterfall.

24. I have this weird thing where street lights always turn off around me. Then I found out there's a group of nuts who think it's a real ability. They call themselves SLIders. SLI stands for "Street Lamp Interference". People are crazy. But I'm SLI!

25. I'm pregnant. Hee, let's see who read this all the way! I'm due 9/1, with a singleton. TK and I are pretty excited, while the boys are just confused about the whole thing.


On facebook, you're supposed to tag 25 people. I'm not doing that here! Instead, I'm just going to tag all of you who have done this already on facebook, and all of you who haven't been tagged on facebook. Oh heck, how about I just say, "play along if you'd like!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

High opinions of my cooking ability

As I've mentioned here from time to time, the boys have been surprisingly resistant to eating anything I make. I'm often surprised they don't just turn into stick figures.

So I haven't thought they were big fans of my cooking. And they probably aren't. But I realized today that N-man at least has extremely high expectations for my abilities. Here was our conversation this morning, when he wanted Apple Cinnamon Cheerios (his favorite).

N-man: We have apples, don't we?

Me: Yes.

N-man: And there's cinnamon in this house?

Me: Yes, why?

N-man: Why don't you just make me some Apple Cinnamon Cheerios?

Me: I think I'll just pour them out of the box.

N-man: No, I want the ones you make.

I guess I'm supposed to figure out how to make cereal for him. Perhaps I'll just pour the box onto a cookie tray while he's not looking!


Another funny N-man realization today: B-man had fallen and was crying, and N-man always likes to sing to him to make him feel better. Today he sang the ABCs. And at the end, he sang, "Now I know my Abe Eeee Cees". I asked him to repeat himself, and he definitely said it again. So funny, since at the beginning of the song he knows it's A B C! The world must be such a weird place for kids!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A dubious honor. Very dubious.

It was a dark and stormy night when our protagonist, WhatACard, discovered that her blog is the number three hit on google when one searches for examples of terrible writing.

Snap, if only I was number one. Hey, if you're going to be bad at something, be terrifically bad!

(For the record, it's not my blog that is the example of terrible writing. Well, maybe it is, but google can't search for that. It can't, right? It's just because I've actively discussed terrible writing here in the past. Really. Right? Right??? Oh no, Google is commenting on my writing, aren't they? I knew that Junior High reading level would come back to haunt me!)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Submitted for your approval...

I got to thinking about that Freedom Rock commercial, and how much I used to love it back in the late 80's, watching endless hours of MTV with friends.

But there was another commercial round about that time. It was for a skateboarding video, clips of famous (at the time) skateboarders.

Remember skateboarders? I went through a brief period where I only dated skateboarders. There was both positive AND negative graffiti about me at local skate areas. Though I'm not sure which were really the "positive" and which were the "negative". My opinion is probably in direct opposition to the boys who wrote it! I'm sure it's gone now, right? Good times.

Anyhow, my google skills are on the fritz, and I can't remember enough about this commercial to effectively search for it. I seem to recall it started with an announcer guy saying "Submitted for your approval". I could be wrong though. It's been a while!

I actually used to have the commercial taped. Yes, I was weird enough to tape favorite commercials (including Freedom Rock! Those fake hippie dudes are just way too awesome!) That was back in the day when I used to have a VCR, though, or the VHS tape it was taped on for that matter.

Dead Milkmen hosting MTV's 120 minutes was on that tape too. So were The Red Hot Chili Peppers, on to promote Mother's Milk (awesome album, no?) What a great tape that was!

That's what wrong with can't make "mix tapes" like you could with VHS!

Yes, I'm looking back on the back-in-my-day days in this very rambling post. Wow, this is all over the place, even for me. And I'm known to, shall we say, wander in my writing.

I'll sign out now.

Like you couldn't have figured that out, all on your own, without my announcement. But there it is.

Apparently it was a big lie, though, since I didn't sign out. See, you can't trust me.

Potty training woes

Ugh, yes, I'm STILL on this. I have 3.5 year olds! This should be LONG in my past! But N-man is still not at all trained.

I talked to the pediatrician's office. Okay, I know technically 3.5 years isn't *that* old not to be potty trained, but come on! The nurse basically laughed at me, gave me the depressing information that it takes some kids until they're 5 to learn, then sent me information about "the reluctant potty trainer".

Here's the gist of the advice: put him in undies, and never mention the potty again. If he has an accident, have him clean it up, no biggie.

That's the advice? Where was the phone number for potty training boot camp? That's what I'm ready for!

The other kind of annoying part was that the information had all kinds of stuff about the mistakes parents make to cause kids to become reluctant potty trainers: punishing a child for accidents, forcing them to sit on the potty, etc. I never did ANY of that! B-man trained no problem. I have been SO laid back about the whole thing.

I'm losing my mind. Any advice? Well, I'm trying the "don't mention the potty" tact...we'll see how it goes.


On a related topic, N-man is SO independent. I don't think I'm EVER going to have to worry about him following the crowd. In fact, I think I'll mostly have to worry about him running in the opposite direction from the crowd. I see it at school: if the teachers want him to color, he wants to cut. If they make him color, he insists on coloring the back of the paper rather than the front. He's not defiant, he just wants to do his own thing rather than anyone else's thing. I think this is our main potty training stumbling block: we want him to use the potty, so he doesn't want to. I swear, I'm about to pull out the reverse psychology and forbid him to use the potty. Of course, I don't know how I'd explain that one to his pediatrician! Here's how that conversation would go:

Her: How have you been trying to train N-man?

Me: I've forbidden him to use the potty.

Her: And how's that working for you?

Me: No worse than asking him to use the potty.

Her: Excuse me a minute while I make this quick phone call to the insane asylum....

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hey man, is that an awesome commercial?

Yeah, man! Well turn it up, man!

I hope at least some of you get the reference before seeing the commercial.

And please, tell me I'm not the only one who, twenty years later, still sings this ENTIRE commercial every time I hear any of these songs...

Is there anything greater than infomercials for CD (or in this case RECORD!) compilations???

Gotta love those State Universities!

I got my college alumni magazine. Here's what they led with on the cover:

Why children are getting so fat, and what the University is doing to help them.

Um, shouldn't we be trying to PREVENT them from becoming obese? I mean, even though I was educated at a state school, I still know we shouldn't be trying to help children become overweight!

Proofread, anyone, for possible meanings in direct opposition to the intended meaning?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A weekend in food

Sorry I've been MIA...we just got back from a long weekend (well, almost a week!) in Buffalo visiting family for our first annual "Christmas in January". It was a lot of fun, and felt a lot less hurried and stressful than normal Christmas-at-Christmas time travel.

But the purpose of this isn't to recap all the fun stuff we did, but rather, all the delicious stuff we ate. See, when we go back to Buffalo, we OD on all the local Buffalo food that we miss desperately. I don't know if I've got any Buffalo natives reading, but if so, you are so lucky to always have this food readily available!

So here's what we had:
  • Loganberry "juice". I've never seen this anywhere besides the Buffalo area, but it's an omnipresent lurker in the soda stations back home. It's SWEET and bright red and delicious!
  • Sponge candy. Okay, this isn't just a Buffalo thing, but it's everywhere in the Buffalo area, even the bulk bins at the supermarket. I could find it here, I'm sure, but I'd have to search. At home, I got three different flavors (milk, dark, and orange) in the bins at the grocery. Easy, peasy, and so yummy!
  • Duff's wings. First, if you're in Buffalo, they're not called "buffalo wings". They're just wings, or perhaps chicken wings. And they're awesome. I've never had wings as good anywhere else. In fact, I'd be hesitant to tell people to try "buffalo wings" outside of Buffalo. Or really, outside of Duff's. Oh sure, some of you are going to pull the whole "but Anchor bar is where wings were invented." Fine, but Duff's is where they were perfected, so head out to the 'burbs if you want the best. These are true HOT wings. So good, and just sopping in hot sauce, that's perfect to dip the fries in. Mmmmmmm....
  • John's Chicken Finger Subs. It's so simple: chicken fingers shaken in hot sauce, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and blue cheese dressing. I've tried to get restaurants to make it here in the Boston area, but no one comes close to the perfection that is John's. Their pizza is horrid (though we'd always go out to eat it after track meets in high school), but their subs are outstanding!
  • Elmwood Taco and Subs burritoes. It's nothing like "real" Mexican food...but it's still good. Their bean and cheese burritoes and meat and extra cheese burritoes are perfection. And that's about all that's on the menu (okay, fine, there's more, but just ignore it).
Things we missed this trip (hey, we can only eat so much!):
  • Ted's Hot Dogs. They know, as everyone everywhere should, that the only proper way to prepare a hot dog is grilling. Oh, and they have the most awesome onion rings and milkshakes. Why can't you find a good hot dog stand outside of Buffalo?
  • Mighty Taco. Well, this is a little embarrassing. If you're from outside Western New York, the best way I can describe Mighty Taco is that it's a regional chain kind of Taco Bell-ish. Except that doesn't do it justice at all, as you couldn't pay me to eat Taco Bell, but I still love Mighty Taco. Not like my brother and sister-in-law, who got this the minute they arrived in town, but the hard shell bean and cheese tacos at Mighty are just so awesome!
  • Beef on weck. It's a famous Buffalo food that I'm actually not too keen on. I find kimmelweck rolls kind of gross, what with all the excess salt and caraway seeds. So we often skip this, but it did need a mention since a trip to Anderson's for a roast beef and frozen custard (loganberry on the side!) is always a good Buffalo outing.
Isn't it weird how tied you become to local foods? I wonder, if we ever moved out of the Boston area, what food we'd miss?

What's the local food in your area that's not to be missed?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Just call me Crash!

So, I was in a car accident. With the boys in the car. I know, freaky, right? Luckily, it was a minor fender bender and we're all fine. And it was the other guy's fault, which in a refreshing "restore my faith in humanity" moment, he owned up to right away and apologized for not paying enough attention. Isn't that nice? No fake "why'd you stop sharply" or "you should have gone" junk.

Anyway, this guy rear-ended me. I was actually driving TK's car. Mine was in the shop, and the boys and I were just coming back from dropping TK at work when, exiting the highway, the guy behind me ran right into us.

It's not that bad. I drove away, though the cop wasn't too happy about it as I was missing a tail light (okay, fine, I was missing most of the left back side of the car. Well, missing is a bit of an exaggeration. I picked it up and stuck it in the trunk ;).

Only problem is I was driving a 2000 Civic. That's not worth a ton. So we're waiting to hear if it's totaled or not. For now, it just sits in our garage, with its big ol' owie.

In related news, the boys were totally excited about the whole experience. "That guy BOOMED us!" they tell me excitedly. "That BAD car hurt our car!" they say with total glee. They got to see a police officer! I swear, this was possibly the most fun activity we did all week.


Random Unrelated Thought (ohhh, remember these? These had fallen by the wayside for a while, but are making a reappearance today!): Did you ever notice that Yellow by Coldplay was the last song they released that didn't become unbearably annoying by the third listen? Here's how it goes every time I hear a new Coldplay song:

First time: Hey, is this Coldplay? This is pretty good!

Second time: This Coldplay song again? I feel like I just heard it.

Third time: Oh geez. Let me channel check.


Oh, bonus random unrelated thought, though it is marginally related to the coldplay thing but unrelated to the main gist of the post, though if I keep this up for too long, who's really going to be able to say what the main point of this post is: I heard Home Sweet Home by Motley Crue on the radio the other day.

That's it. It's kind of noteworthy, isn't it? I mean, what radio station is still playing Home Sweet Home? Did this one lose some kind of bet with another radio station?

I tease because I love it! I listened (and sang) to the whole song. Rockin'! Now Motley Crue, those are some songs that can handle more than 3 listens each decade!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


N-man is one of the most dramatic children ever. It's sometimes very funny, and it's even more ridiculous because he totally gets the tendency to over-exaggerate from me so I can't even complain too much.

His newest thing is to state "Never!!" dramatically whenever we ask him to do something he doesn't want to do.

"N-man, it's time to clean up."

"Nnnneeeeeeeeeeeeee-vvvvaaaaaaah," he yells, as he runs away.

"N-man, it's time to try to sit on the potty."

"Nnnnnneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-vvvvvvvvvvvvvvaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!" he states emphatically.

Well, as you can imagine, it's somewhat disheartening and results in many timeouts.

Last night, I was making dinner (spaghetti and meatballs, so it's not like I was making something that could be considered a form of child abuse), and N-man was in an especially bad mood. As I was making the meatballs, he kept up a running commentary that went slightly like this:

"Stop making those. I'll NEVER eat those. Don't cook those. Never, never, neeeeeee-vah!"

It kept on for the whole half an hour or so it took me to prepare dinner. I tried to explain that I was making meatballs, which he loves. He insisted he didn't, and that he'd NEVER eat any. I showed him them cooking, and he demanded I stop cooking immediately, if not sooner. Of course, I ignored him and told him that spaghetti and meatballs was what I was making, and it was his choice if he wanted to eat or not, but that was his only choice for dinner.

He cried and carried on, finally calming down when TK came home.

I served dinner, and he dug right in to his meatballs, which I KNEW he loved as he always eats a ton.

I said to him, "I thought you said you'd NEVER eat those."

He answered calmly, "I thought it was something else you were making."


Don't you love the irrationality of a three-and-a-half year old? I swear, this kid's going to win an Oscar one day!

Monday, January 5, 2009

CSA decision making

It's hard to believe, but it's that time of year to make a decision about joining a CSA for the summer season. At least in this area, the CSA shares sell out can't put off deciding until April.

We plan on rejoining our CSA again this year. For you faithful readers from last summer, I'm sure you're not surprised as my blog devolved into "local produce, all the time" for a month or so there as I got so overly excited about the whole thing. I'll try to have more balance this summer, though no promises!

Anyway, I thought I'd share my "pros and cons" list for anyone on the CSA fence. These are *my* pros and cons...some of you may think my pros are actually cons, or vice versa :) So take it for what it's worth.

Pros of a CSA:
  • Supporting local farming (and all that goes with it, such as more sustainable agriculture, green space in the area, ability of farmers to grow a diversity of vegetables, training new farmers, etc.)
  • Getting a lot of veggies, especially varieties I haven't tried before.
  • Potential environmental benefit (I'm not convinced about fuel savings for shipping, and on a totally personal level, we drive A LOT further to go to the CSA than to the supermarket. I know that's not the same as a truck driving from California to MA, or a plane flying from South America, but I do kind of feel like my own personal contribution to fuel savings is at least partially offset by the long distance we have to drive to the CSA).
  • Okay, here's a true environmental benefit: little to no packaging materials. Sometimes we'd pick things into a reusable pint container, or use a plastic veggie bag, but most of it goes directly into a reusable grocery bag with absolutely no packaging at all. There's also no food refrigeration storage costs as it goes right from the field to us!
  • Giving the boys a better understanding of where food comes from and how it is grown.
  • Getting organic (or in our case, organically grown but not certified organic) vegetables.
  • This is personal to our specific CSA, but I love that our CSA is big into hunger relief efforts on a local level.
  • Eating healthier. We ate a lot more veggies and vegetarian meals during the summer.
  • The fun of the you-pick component. I mean, there's one local farm that charges $8 a person just to get on their farm to pick strawberries (you have to pay for the strawberries on top of it!) We got to do the picking for free each week, which was the boys' favorite part. B-man especially loved picking basil (I think because he was totally entranced with the fact that there was PURPLE basil!), and N-man would sometimes be willing to try a bite of something in the field (husk cherries were a hit!). Going to the CSA pick up was an event each week...a fun activity for the boys that I felt really good about. We'd also sometime pack a picnic dinner, or bump into some friends with their twins. It wasn't just an errand to go to pickup, but something fun for the family each week.
Neutral facts about a CSA:
  • Expense: I was suprised to find there was little, if no, difference in cost. I thought we'd save money, and we certainly did on vegetables. But we made up for it in other weird ingredients I bought to try new recipes. I also became focused on sourcing many other local (or local-ish) ingredients, which became especially spendy for meat (which we cut way back on, so I probably didn't spend any extra on meat than before), and cheese (which I bought a TON of, and is probably responsible for a large portion of the additional food expenses ;)
  • Getting the boys to eat more vegetables/try new foods: Yeah, this didn't work at all. They loved to pick things like fava beans, or green beans, or edamame, but they still didn't want to eat it! Oh well, they were no worse off than before!
Cons of a CSA:
  • The long drive to the pick up
  • Having little control over what, how much, and when you'll get things. For example, I think over the whole summer, we got THREE zucchinis. Three, that's it! How is that possible, when zucchinis are the poster child for summer plenty? And we got pretty sick of the endless non-zucchini summer squash (though I'm missing it now!) Sometimes we got too much of something, sometimes not enough.
  • Food acquisition and preparation took a huge portion of my time during the CSA...there was little "convenience" food. By the time the CSA was over, I was a bit desperate for a frozen pizza. During the CSA, I never wanted to waste any of our food by using up a meal on something that didn't require me to use any CSA ingredients.
  • The inherent risk of a CSA, in that you pay a flat fee and then get a share of the harvest, which may be small if it's not a good year (this past year wasn't great here due to the excessive rain, though I still felt like we got a fair amount for the price).
  • Having to pay a lump sum up front before the growing season begins. Sure, it's nice in July, August, and September when you've already paid, but you still need to have the cash upfront.
  • Being tied to specific pick-up times. The CSA we joined is one of the more convenient in that you don't have to pick a specific pick up date/ can show up during any of the pick up times available during the week. But even with that allowance, it's still far less convenient than a supermarket where you can pop in at pretty much any time of the day or night! For example, morning pickups would have worked best for us, but our CSA only offered late afternoon/early evening pickups so I always had to fight the afternoon rush hour.
  • You pay for the whole season, even if you're going to be away on vacation and miss a week or two. Last year we were able to plan our travel around our CSA, but I doubt we'll be able to again this year (it's funny, since we don't even "vacation" officially, but we do take advantage of the summer to visit family).
  • Did I mention the phenomenal amount of cooking and prep work? I even had to spend a lot of time looking for recipes for vegetables I'd never tried before, or new ways of preparing familiar veggies.
  • The weather doesn't always cooperate...we picked up in extreme heat and extreme wet (including one insane day where we got COMPLETELY soaked just walking for the car to the pick up stand, so we decided to pick green beans despite the torrential downpour. We were, without exaggeration, as wet as we would have been if we had just jumped in a swimming pool!)
  • Sometimes, especially the weeks when TK didn't come with me, it was hard to corral the boys. I mean, the farm was safe and there were always kids running around, but some weeks I spent more time trying to keep the kids entertained/away from trampling the plants/in eyesight than I did picking up the veggies!
As I said at the beginning of this (LONG) post, I loved our CSA and we're almost sure to do it again this year (I have nightmares about getting fact, I have to call tomorrow if our sign up info isn't in today's mail). But I don't think a CSA is for everyone.

Who do I think would enjoy a CSA?
  • People who would view large (or small) amounts of different vegetables, which you may never have used before, as a fun challenge rather than a terrible burden.
  • People who are excited at the possibility of new and unusual varieties of vegetables. It's not just heirloom tomatoes you'll get, but odd varieties of squash, and different colored cauliflower, unusual cabbage, etc.
  • People who have the time and inclination to commit to a weekly supply of fresh veggies. It gets a bit overwhelming, let me tell you, when you're barely finishing up last weeks' pick up and it's already time to go get some new stuff!
  • People who don't have extensive vacations planned over the summer. If you're going to be away every other week, it's not worth it!
Going to farmers' markets are a great option, either as an alternative to a CSA, or in addition to the CSA. I still shopped at farmers' markets plenty this summer, though often for things like eggs and cheese, or to supplement our veggie pick ups (like if we only got one small eggplant, and I wanted to try a recipe that needed more eggplant). For people who don't want the committment of time, money, or quantity that a CSA entails, shopping the farmers' markets is probably the better choice.

And for those of you still relying on the supermarket for veggies in the summer, I encourage you to check out your local farmers''ll be surprised at how much more delicious fresh vegetables can be!


Sorry this post got so long, just getting my ideas out. Did anyone make it to the bottom of this post? If so, you deserve a "I read WhatACard's long post about something I wasn't really interested in, in the hopes there would be something interesting at the end. But there wasn't" award. Feel free to award it to deserve it! And I'll try to post about something more interesting soon!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 Reading List

Here it is, preserved for all posterity, my 2008 reading list. For what it's worth, I'll bold the ones I would recommend.

  • Stolen by Kelley Armstrong (another in the Women of Otherworld series. These books are good, light entertainment!)
  • Bitten by Kelley Armstrong (very fun and entertaining werewolf novel!)
  • Conquistador: A Novel of Alternate History by S. M. Stirling (Not too bad. An interesting alternate Earth story, but a little too much political stuff for my taste.)
  • Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam Sheppard (Written in direct response to Barbara Ehrenreich's books. While her books annoyed me for how hopeless they were, and to be frank, how stupidly she went about things, his had the opposite problem of where his experiment was far too unrealistic for the vast majority of people: completely undervalued his own past experiences and knowledge, such as delayed gratification, money management, etc. Also, he got too good a job (moving) with a higher salary than most people would be able to physically handle. But it was still an interesting premise...)
  • Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Okay. Very interesting, but somehow detached from her own subject matter in an off-putting way).
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss (I laughed through this whole book, and loved her insanity. I'm sure it's just me, but I'd love to go out to dinner with her and Sarah Vowell. I just think they'd be hilarious, especially together!)
  • The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon (okay, I'm officially in love with Michael Chabon. Though I will admit the end of this novel kind of petered out. I still loved it, though!)
  • China Dog: And Other Tales From a Chinese Laundry by Judy Fong Bates (I enjoyed these stories...they're all about the immigrant experience from China to Canada. They got slightly repetitive, but I enjoyed all of them except the title story.)
  • Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card (Not great, but tied up some lose ends. Felt more like some cobbled together short stories.)
  • Reefer Madness by Eric Schlosser (Enjoyable!)
  • Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K. Hamilton (the 7th book in the series. I'm embarrassed I still read these. Could this series please end?)
  • Empire Falls by Richard Russo (very well written, interesting story)
  • A Lick of Frost by Laurell K. Hamilton (A reread of the 6th book in the Merry Gentry series. Not great, I wouldn't recommend the series)
  • Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje (Interesting, odd, probably wouldn't reread but I'm glad I read it once!)
  • Cell by Stephen King (not his best, but certainly readable)
  • The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (Eh. Not the worst book ever, but I'd steer people away from it).
  • Brisingr by Christopher Paolini (I'm still enjoying this series, though I wish the writing was stronger)
  • Sala's Gift: My Mother's Holocaust Story by Ann Kirschner (very interesting. I'd recommend it!)
  • Eldest by Christopher Paolini (This was a reread for me in preparation of reading the new book in the series that just came out. I'm enjoying this series and am excited to see where the next installment goes).
  • The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler (eh. Nothing terrible, nothing exciting.)
  • The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (This was my book group selection. I enjoyed it, but didn't love it. Thought it was a little light.)
  • Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
  • Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (I hate Stephenie Meyer. This book was crap).
  • Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer (oh my gosh, I hate all of these characters. And yet I'm still addicted)
  • New Moon by Stephanie Meyer (okay, not as good as Twilight)
  • Eragon by Christopher Paolini (I listened to this on CD. I've read this before, and I prefer the print version over the audio version as the weaknesses of this book (story and writing) were much more apparent in the audio version where you can't skim)
  • Extras by Scott Westerfeld (I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Some of the characters weren't fully developed, but it was still an interesting story.)
  • Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeapordy by Bob Harris (interesting and funny, although it rambled a bit.)
  • The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld (the sequel to Peeps. It was FAR inferior. It was okay, but nothing at all special. Or Specials. Hee, that's a pretty big inside joke. See, Scott Westerfeld also wrote a book titled Specials. It was a sequel to a different series, and while it also didn't quite live up to the original, it wasn't nearly as bad as The Last Days. Oh, forget it. Just skip this book and read his others.)
  • Grave Peril by Jim Butcher (Book 3 of The Dresden Files. A decent series, but tend to be ill-paced in my opinion. Action, action, action, book's done.)
  • Peeps by Scott Westerfeld (Great! Highly enjoyable book about vampires and...parasites??)
  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (Pretty good. A very fast and engaging read.)
  • Trans-sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian (Readable. Vaguely unfulfilling, though.)
  • Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich (not very well done. Poorly researched...she didn't really prove anything to me except that *she* doesn't know how to job search. But there was some interesting information, and some engaging bits. Not a complete waste of time, but I'd be hesitant to actually recommend it)
  • Burger Wuss by M.T. Anderson (I loved Feed by MT Anderson, but this wasn't all that good.)
  • Darwin's Children by Greg Bear (Okay, but not as good as Darwin's Radio. I hope there's no Darwin's Ipod in the future!)
  • Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (Great! Quick read and hard to put down. Both storylines were engaging.)
  • John Adams by David McCullough (Highly enjoyable!)
  • Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich (Enjoyable)
  • Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody (Okay. Not bad, but not great, either)
  • When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (One of his best. Funny and fun)
  • The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon (very enjoyable, but not awesome)
  • Peony in Love by Lisa See (Loved it! I'd probably recommend Snow Flower and the Secret Fan to anyone who is looking to read something by her, but this was still interesting.)
  • A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton (Eh. I'm not much of a mystery reader, and this didn't convince me to change my reading preferences. It was okay, though)
  • From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris (I love this series, but this was kind of disappointing)
  • Zodiac by Neal Stephenson (readable, but not great)
  • Blood Noir by Laurell K. Hamilton (This series used to be great. Now it's just badly written erotica. Although the more recent books have been slightly better, and they're still quick reads. I don't know. I'd be hard pressed to recommend anyone start this series since it's so uneven, but if you're already reading, this installment is no worse than any of the others, so knock yourself out.)
  • The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Very enjoyable!).
  • The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau (Okay. I loved the first book in the series, but I found the middle of this one dragged.)
  • All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris (I'm loving this series. It's a vampire/mystery/romance series, so read at your own risk!)
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (really, really outstanding. A YA book, so it's short).
  • Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich (by far the best of the "between the numbers" books)
  • Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (Okay, but not my favorite of the "my childhood was crazier than yours" memoirs.)
  • Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich (I'm not sure I totally get why there's supernatural stuff in the between the number mysteries. Wish I'd skipped this one.)
  • Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin (Eh, some was great, some was terrible. It had a lot of interesting information about autism, though.)
  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin (A fantasy classic for a reason. Recommended to any genre readers who somehow have missed it up to now.)
  • Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (Pretty good. Recommend to take it out of the library rather than buy it.).
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (really, really, really loved it!)
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (I loved it, although I thought the beginning was much better than the end.)
  • Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (Very interesting idea for a book. Recommended.)
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (Good. A little preachy, which would probably be really annoying if you don't agree with her)
  • The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (highly recommeded, although just to skim if you're not that interested in food)
  • Mr. Timothy by Louis Bayard (slow start, a bit unnecessarily gimmicky in that it's Tiny Tim all grown up, but ultimately a very enjoyable mystery. Recommended)
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (neutral again, at least it's short!)
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving ( it if you'd like. I won't stop you!)
  • Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami (highly recommended)
  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (recommended)
  • My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (VERY not recommended)
  • For a Few Demons More by Kim Harrison (series recommended to genre readers)
  • Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid (recommended)
A Year in Review:

Number of books read: 70

Number of book I would recommend: 31 (almost half...not too shabby!)

Favorite books of the year: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, John Adams by David McCullough, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.

Worst books of the year: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, and Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer. Avoid these at all costs!

Most difficult book of the year: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I didn't dislike this book per se, it was

Most surprising discovery of the year: I read (and enjoy) a lot more non-fiction that I would have guessed. I'm not surprised by the amount of sci-fi/fantasy or YA I read, but I had no idea I read so many non-fiction books.

Well, on to 2009 now. Any recommendations for me?