Don't miss my NEW Bossypants review (under Memoirs & Autobiographies)
and The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes review (under the Fiction tab).
(Click on "Book Reviews" tabs on right)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Taking a Break

I finished The Girl Who Fell From the Sky and am wrapping up A Visit From the Goon Squad.  I'll be zipping up reviews for those shortly.  In the meantime, I fill my days with sending resumes and making calls and then I send more resumes, write letters, and make calls.  But this weekend, I took a little break from it all ...although I continued to read Goon Squad here and there.  I got away for a couple days to my little oasis in the country (i.e., my boyfriend's farm).  There, I worked on our little garden.  I weeded and straightened out the rows.  I wrestled the cucumbers back inside their fence -- their prickly little branches leaving bristles in my fingers.  The tiny cucumbers grow to the fence and then as they mature, they're half in and half out of the fence.  Leaves you in a pickle when it comes to pickin'.  It's all orderly and picture perfect today...tomorrow's another story. 

I harvested some beans, peas, a few cucumbers out of the fence and plenty of zucchini.  The garden is overflowing it's borders; trying to take over the yard.  I already snapped and steamed some fresh green beans with some real butter...mmm...delicioso!  I baked some Zucchini Chocolate Cake (see recipe below).  This zucchini recipe will take care of any chocolate lover's addiction and will make zucchini lover's out of anyone.  Later, I whipped up my favorite -- creamed cucumbers: almost equivalent to savoring a bowl of ice cream (not chocolate ice cream...nothing surpasses chocolate anything).

This weekend, I also learned how to drive a zero-turn.  For those of us who may need a definition, it's basically a lawn mower that steers using the rear wheels and pivots through 180 degrees without leaving a circle of uncut grass...that is, if you do it right. Who would have guessed that I could steer such a machine?!  At the start, I almost gave up.  It felt so out-of-control.  My ever-patient boyfriend encouraged me and let me wrestle with it a little on my own.  Actually, he explained that the less I wrestle, the easier it might be to steer.  He was right...again.  Before you knew it, I was zipping around like no body's business.  Of course, I did bump the fence just a little, bounced off the edge of a small tree that was probably in the way anyways, and we certainly didn't need those little impatiens on the end of the house. 

One evening, we went to a pig roast and watched a horse show where the riders and their horses were team penning and sorting small calves.  That was great fun to watch.  And then the torrential rain came down and once the lightning was over, we continued to watch a very muddy horse show.  Today, we took a long leisurely ride through the country on the Harley.  It was a beautiful ride full of rolling hills and scenic views, bank barns, gable barns, barns with Gambrel roofs, and dilapidated old barns, picturesque farms with an array of goats, chickens, cows and horses, and country farm houses with acres of pasture and big old village homes each with it's own unique architecture.  It was all so relaxing...and so needed.  I got a little sun on my shoulders, pink in my cheeks and a lot of fresh air.  Breathe in; breathe out.  Okay, I'm ready to face another week of job searching.  And yes, I'll finish that Goon Squad.

Easy Chocolate Zucchini Cake
(Southern Food)
1/2 C softened butter
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 C sour cream
1 Chocolate cake mix with pudding
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 med zucchini shredded (1 1/2 cups)
1 C choc chips

Grease & flour Bundt pan.  Heat oven to 325.  Mix butter, eggs, vanilla.  Add sour cream and cinnamon.  Add cake mix.  Stir in zucchini and choc chips.  Bake 40-50 minutes until toothpick shows clean.  Cool 15 min. Invert.  Dust with powdered sugar when cooled.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Life is Good

I lost my job.  Not “officially” until August 3rd. No matter, I lost my job.  There’s a weight in the bottom of my stomach and I feel on the edge of anxiety.  When I think too hard about it, my eyes well up.  Sometimes I can’t even say it out loud.  And then Greg, my boyfriend, steadies me with his broad shoulders and gentle soothing words.  And then I breathe…and I begin to count my blessings:

My boys. 
We’re all healthy.
My family.
Greg’s family.
All our cute little animals.
Our dear friends.

Of course, I’m sending out resumes and contacting my contacts and contacting the contacts of my contacts and so on.  I have a minimum daily goal of 2-3 resumes out and 2-3 contacts contacted.  I’m very disciplined that way.  But before I tackle any of that, I walk.

I walk most mornings in and around town to clear my head and I pray as I walk and I take a moment to breathe in the beautiful world around me.  I enjoy the colorful flower beds full of hostas with their spiky blooms, and the impatiens that pile up into one huge colorful lump, the perky white and yellow daisies, and the rich deep gold of the day lilies.  I walk before the morning hustle and bustle.  The streets are quiet. The newspapers are dewy and sitting at the end of the driveways.  I notice the blue sky and feel the crisp fresh morning air.  I pass a few of the same people every morning and share a quiet “Good morning.”  And I realize that...“life is good.” 

The baseball hat I wear while walking was given to me by my sister.  It’s a “Life is Good” hat.  I never knew until this week that inside the hat it reads, “Do what you like. Like what you do.”  While visiting my sister today, the coffee mug on the counter next to me read in black & white, “Do what you like.  Like what you do.”  And later that day, I picked up another cup (not the same cup) that had this saying on it, “Do what you like. Like what you do.”  I’m thinking there’s a little divine intervention going on here.  Apparently God must not think I’m a quick learn and has to pass this by me three times. 

What a glorious concept:  “Do what you like.  Like what you do.”  Hmmm.  Tomorrow morning I’m going to put on my hat, walk, pray and mull that one over.