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Catching Up

April 17, 2014

Yes, I realize I’ve been pretty much MIA for the last month. Life has been a bit hectic lately, which has kept me from writing here. I do miss this place and interacting with all of you. I have ideas for new posts and there are several musings in my head right now, so I hope to stop neglecting this little blog so much.

In the meantime, I thought I’d use this as a catch-up post and fill you in on what’s happening these days. This is not my typical blog post, but hopefully you’ll stick around and see what’s new.

  • It’s been a strange spring so far. As you know, my beloved Romeo left us in early March. Thank you so much to all of you that left thoughtful comments on the blog post or Facebook. I’m doing much better now, but I still feel pangs of sadness now and then. I find myself spending lots of time and attention to Casey. She has been with us since she was a puppy, and she’s been such a comfort to me since Romeo died.
  • It’s hard to believe Sophie has only eight weeks left of kindergarten. Her transformation this year has been incredible. It’s insane that in September, reading was not in her vocabulary and now she’s writing and reading like crazy. It’s amazing, and is the subject for an upcoming post.
  • Sophie also just finished running a marathon. The school hosts a morning Running Club for kids and parents who want to run/jog/walk before class starts. Sophie has been running with Bryan on  regular basis since the fall. Yesterday she completed 26.2 miles – her first marathon! It was incredible to watch her run that last lap to get to the marathon completion. I was crying, and she was so proud of herself. I love that she set a goal and achieved it.
  • I am super excited to be the first San Diego city editor for Red Tricycle. Some of you may already be familiar with Red Tricycle, which is an online resource for parents and families looking for cool things to do, places to go, and recipes to make. I’ve been writing for Red Tricycle for a while, and to make this leap is so exciting.
  • Although I haven’t done any posts related to recipes lately, I’m still cooking and doing my monthly meal plans. I’ve been loving the recipes from The Fresh 20, which I wrote about last year. You should definitely check it out if you’re looking for easy meal planning options.
  • As many of you know, I often review books on this blog and my book pile continues to grow. I took a break from the stack when I found a copy of Gone Girl at Goodwill for $5. And once I started reading Gone Girl, I couldn’t put it down. Holy cow, was that a mind trip! I’m glad they changed the ending for the movie since it will make the movie suspenseful in itself. Have any of you read it?

So there you have it (for now). I promise to have more substantive posts soon! In the meantime, here are some photos I snapped recently.

Me and my Sophie.me and sophie

I was walking on the UC San Diego campus and came across this scene. I’d caption it, “Even little riders need a place to park.”cars

Casey is trying to keep me from finishing “Gone Girl.”casey book

Sophie and I go to the park after school twice a week. I glanced over and noticed there weren’t any kids swinging – such an odd thing. I love the simple beauty of this photo.swings

My never-ending stack! Have you read any of these?books

Sophie (and Bryan) on her marathon day!marathon collage

The spring sky was so blue and full of white puffy clouds. I had to capture the moment.sky

Tell me what you’ve been up to lately. Tried any new recipes? Reading any good books?

How to Trap a Leprechaun

March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I don’t typically do much to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (other than the obligatory wearing of green). But for Sophie’s homework project this month, she had to create a leprechaun trap for school. After getting some Pinterest inspiration, Sophie decided to fill a jar with “gold” and attach a ladder so the leprechaun could climb up and then get trapped in the jar.

Here’s the final leprechaun trap.

leprechaun trapAside from the Rolo candies, we had everything at home so it wasn’t too daunting of a craft. We had the shamrock fabric, Mason jar, pipe cleaners, and scrapbook paper in the garage. And a friend helped Sophie build the tiny wooden ladder out of twigs for a fairy house.

These projects are supposed to be family efforts, with the student doing most of the work. And with the exception of the hot glue gun, this really was Sophie’s project — right down to the “frey” gold sign. (I purposefully did not spell it for her because I felt strongly it should be HER effort.)

Sophie is so excited to go to school today and see if her trap caught a leprechaun. I can’t wait to pick her up and hear what happened.

Of course, I think I may have already found our backyard leprechaun!

bipp leprechaun

Whether you celebrate St. Patrick’s day or not, I wish you  a very lucky day!

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Good Bye, My Loyal Friend

March 13, 2014

Last week we had to say good bye to Romeo, our beloved and loyal retriever/shepherd mix. This experience has been one of the most difficult in my life.

romeo in grass

Even though Romeo was an older dog (nearly 14 years), his death was a complete shock and surprise. When I left the house one day last week, he was his usual self — lumbering through the downstairs and super excited to take his place in the living room with Casey for the treat we give the animals before we depart the house.

I knew something was terribly wrong when Sophie and I returned home later that day and Romeo wasn’t at the door to greet us. For eight years, he’s been right there with Casey waiting for us.

I found Romeo laying on the side of the house in what looked like despair. He was alive, but was not himself and couldn’t move. I loaded his helpless body into the car, along with a hysterical Sophie and panicked Casey (who jumped into the car and wouldn’t get out.

The vet said he developed gastric dilation with torsion, which essentially means the stomach fills with air and then twists on itself. For those of you familiar with Marley and Me, it’s the same condition that led to Marley’s death. It develops within hours and is almost always fatal. Bryan, Sophie, Casey and I all told him we loved him, and I thanked him for all he gave us in his life.

As I said, I knew Romeo was getting on in life and his sore hips slowed him down just slightly. But I was not prepared to say good bye so soon. Really, nothing  prepares you for this situation. I can honestly say I’ve never been so sad and depressed in my entire life.

I know it sounds funny, but I didn’t realize how much of a presence he had in our home until he was gone. The house feels so empty without him.

Romeo was ALWAYS following me around the house, so his absence is very apparent. Even when I walked a few feet into the garage, Romeo was right on my heels. I find myself reaching my hand out from the bed or couch, and thinking his head will be there. Every day I worked in my home office, he faithfully assumed his spot in the doorway of the room. I keep expecting him to still be there.

Even little things like not having to refill the water and food bowls are gut-wrenching since he was the one constantly lapping up the water and food. Seeing his leash on the ground brought me down, and so did walking Casey alone (the first time I’ve walked only one dog in eight years).

It’s true that each day gets a little easier. For those of you wondering, Sophie is doing fine. She was very sad the night he died. But kids are so resilient and her spirits were lifted pretty quickly.

I miss Romeo terribly and still find myself in tears on a daily basis. I am very grateful he didn’t suffer long-term. And I’m incredibly thankful he was in our lives for eight wonderful years.

Since Romeo’s death, I’ve found myself thinking about the ending passage of Charlotte’s Web.

Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. — E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

I could have penned these powerful words myself as I know exactly how Wilbur felt.

Thank you, Romeo. I will always love you and treasure what you brought to my life! 

You can read more about Romeo’s story and what made him such a great dog in this earlier post I wrote about him.

Erika Robuck’s New Novel Shines Light on Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (And a Giveaway)

February 18, 2014

Congratulations Rhonda! You won the copy of Fallen Beauty! 

Some of you may recall me welcoming Erika Robuck to the blog last year when I had the pleasure to read Call Me Zelda. She’s back today to talk about her new novel, Fallen Beauty, about 1930s poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay. I think it’s safe to say that her writing just gets better and better with every book because Fallen Beauty is amazing!

I was excited to read Fallen Beauty and learn more about Millay because I remember reading her poem about burning the candle at both ends in my 11th grade American Literature class. I don’t remember a lot of poems, but that one has been memorable to me for all these years.

Fallen Beauty_Cover ImageIn this new story, Erika presents vivid new characters while portraying a beautifully eccentric Edna St. Vincent Millay, around whom an electrifying tale unfolds, where the fast pace of the jazz age collides with life in a small, judgmental town.

Erika has answered a few questions about Fallen Beauty, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and what she’s working on next.

What inspired you to make Edna St. Vincent Millay the subject of your third literary-themed novel?
My studies of the Fitzgeralds for my novel Call Me Zelda led me to Millay. Two of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Princeton friends, Edmund “Bunny” Wilson and John Peale Bishop, worshipped Millay, and their adoration of her reminded me of my interest in her poetry, which I first read in college. Wilson’s moving obituary for Millay in his essay collection, Shores of Light, inspired me to learn more about the poet who had such an “intoxicating effect on people.” It didn’t take long for Millay to cast her spell on me.

Through the character of Laura Kelley, Fallen Beauty explores what it meant to be a “fallen woman” in the 1930s, but in some ways Edna St. Vincent Millay might also be considered a fallen woman. What did you you hope to convey in this regard?
I wanted to show how making judgments about people injects poison into communities, how frequently all is not what it seems, and how those who outspokenly oppose something that they see as corrosive are often battling aspects of the very behavior they denounce.

Through the women in particular in Fallen Beauty I wanted to explore how we seek fulfillment, what it means to be an “ideal” woman (if there is such a thing), how our desires can either help to build us up or destroy us, and how we can remake our lives after we fall.

All three of your novels explore the idea of redemption in one way or another. Is that a deliberate choice, or a theme that cropped up without your being aware of it?
I believe it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who said that writers have only one story to tell, so I suppose redemption is my story. My mission with Ernest Hemingway, Zelda Fitzgerald and now Edna St. Vincent Millay is to show their humanity through their fascinating lives in order to honor them and remind readers of their work. I like to read novels that offer redemption in spite of hardship, so it’s only natural that I employ similar themes in my own fiction.

Tell us about the subject of your next novel.
The subject of my next novel is a very private gentleman from a long time ago, who often felt isolated in spite of being surrounded by his loving family and accomplished contemporaries. I will not yet reveal his name, but I will say that through him, I will explore loneliness and, most certainly, redemption.

GIVEAWAY: I have one copy of Fallen Beauty to give to one lucky reader. To be entered to win, leave a comment telling me what was the best book you read in 2013. The giveaway closes Friday, February 21 at 5 pm Pacific time. 

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of  Fallen Beauty to review for this blog post.  All opinions are my own and I only endorse books that I am proud to recommend to others.

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10 on 10: February 2014

February 14, 2014

10 pictures on the 10th day of the month to show the beauty in a regular day.

February 10, 2014

The view from my working day (that is the Pacific Ocean under those clouds).10 on 10_1

A bare tree – the only evidence of winter in San Diego.10 on 10_2

I’m obsessed with this salad from Croutons. Gouda cheese, apples, yum! 10 on 10_3

Pretty Valentine’s display.10 on 10_4

Sophie and Bipp, playing in the dirt (that was the front lawn).10 on 10_5

It’s been so warm here that the flowers think it’s spring.10 on 10_6

Do you wanna build a snowman?10 on 10_7

Valentine’s Day chocolate hearts.10 on 10_8

Sophie says, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”10 on 10_9

A selfie of me and Bipp (aka the Photo-Bomb cat).10 on 10_10
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