Monthly Archives: January 2009

Baby, it really is cold outside

Well, it’s Wednesday, at 11:36 a.m. I sitting on the couch in my pajamas, a cup of hot coffee next to me, my laptop and a blanket on my lap . . . and if you look outside, you will know that, yes, it is another snow day for me. A winter storm blew into the area last night while we were sleeping, and I got the infamous phone call at 5:30 a.m. saying that Milton was indeed closed for the day, something we had all been expecting when we left yesterday. 

I have big plans for today, but as I’m typing this, I realize that it is almost noon and I have done nothing. Well, I’m kind of doing something – I soaked a towel in some vinegar and sprinkled some baking soda on it to put in our sink to see if it will get rid of some of the lime/hard water stains in there. But I’m not ACTIVELY doing something. And, seeing as I have an unexpected day off, I probably should.

So here are my oh-so-industrious plans for today:

1. Normal house cleaning (dishes, vacuuming, dusting, organizing)
2. Organizing the towel/medicine/toiletries closet.
3. Laundry
4. Cleaning our bedroom
5. Moving and cleaning under the couch since that hasn’t been done . . . uh . . . ever (whoops)
6. Lesson planning/grading

Plus, making dinner, plus, I’m kind of in a baking mood, but I should probably tackle the things on my list first before moving on to that. And it’s Wednesday, which means tonight is a LOST night (woot!).

Also, in case you’re wondering, I am working on my first book blog. I was going to post it on Sunday but the actually typing of it and reflecting on the books is taking me longer than normal. So hopefully I will find some time today to get that in there as well.

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In two days . . .

Season 5 begins. I am so excited, I can hardly wait. Ben Linus, I have been waiting for you.

The winter has just gotten a little less colder!

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Filed under Random Life

Jumping back on the eco-friendly wagon

Over the summer, I was a – as I called it – “lean, green, eco-friendly machine.” I spent my lazy summer days visiting green blogs, green websites, and green message boards. I became obsessed with cloth diapering for our future children, using only environmentally friendly cleaning products, and buying fresh, local produce. I was living in a literally (since it was summer) and figuratively green heaven.

Then school started and real world set in, and, for some reason, environmentally friendly cleaning and cooking went out the window. As the cold months set in, my favorite produce stands shut down, and it was impossible to get local produce. And, in an attempt to make my cleaning efforts last longer, I decided that I needed something stronger than vinegar and baking soda, and starting buying Mop ‘n’ Glo, Mr. Clean, and Lysol by the gallon. While J and I still recycled, and while I was still doing some green things like using microfiber cloths to clean, rather than disposable paper towels, the truth was, being environmentally friendly took a back seat.

However, I didn’t stop reading some of my favorite green blogs, although I did stop the green message boards. And then one day, as I was reading my favorite blog (valleygirlhasbabygoescrunchy.blogspot.com – check it out), I realized that buying commercial cleaners with harsh chemical products was 1) not saving me any more time,  2) was costing more money, and 3) was doing more harm to my environment than I wanted. Three strikes – and they’re out.

So I have decided to rethink my cleaning process and am planning to wean out all my old, harmful cleaning products. This means that once I am done with a bottle of something, I am not going to replace it – rather, I am going to use an eco-friendly substitute. I am going to try this with everything – floor cleaners, glass cleaners, dusting tools, bathroom cleaners, even disinfectants. While I don’t think I can give up keeping a bottle of Lysol around (just in case), for the most part, I want to rid our home of harsh chemicals and keep it clean and green.

I also realize that going back to this will save us a lot of money. For example, I had bought a swiffer wet jet  back in the fall and was using the wet jet solution for our kitchen floors. However, the solution didn’t really work that well to begin with, was costing us $4 a week just to replace, plus, I was using the swiffer wet jet pads that were also $8 for a small pack and going right into the landfills. So then I started cleaning our floors with a good old fashioned rag mop, bucket of warm water, vinegar, and a drop of dish soap – and ta da! This works better than the swiffer and is much more eco-friendly. Plus, water is free (well, relatively), we always have dish soap in our house (and now it’s an Palm’s eco friendly kind), and vinegar runs less than $2 a gallon! Voila! Much smarter decision. Plus, vinegar can be used for a variety of purposes (check out http://www.vinegartips.com for more).

So anyway, my new resolve is to make my green-ness a lifestyle and not just a short-fused habit. Perhaps this can be seen as my New Year’s Resolution #2. Book reading and a clean, environmentally friendly home – what could be better?

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I’d rather be bit by a vampire than read Twilight

While we’re on the subject of books . . .

When I was in seventh grade, I was on a writing spree. I wrote two large (150+ pages of looseleaf note paper, front and back) “books” that were the accomplishment of that year. Those books focused on my friends and I and our “meetings” with certain celebrities – more specifically, the Backstreet Boys (I was a little obsessed). While not well-written by any means, I realize now that if I had stuck with it, I could have had had an award winning Young Adult book series, because my books were undoubtedly 100 times more well written than a little popular book series known as the Twilight series. In fact, if you had changed my character’s love affair with the lead singer of BSB to a vampire and set it in western U.S., you would have probably Twilight, only better.

Now, perhaps you are thinking to yourself, “Well, of course you don’t like the Twilight books. You were an English major and all English majors are book snobs and cannot see past their Dickinson and Shakespeare and Wordsworth.” To which I would reply, that yes, in a former life, I was an English major, but now I am a seventh grade language arts teacher, which means that none of those writers exist in my professional life at all. In fact, in the past six months, I spend more time talking about myspace and the Jonas Brothers and Judy Blume than I ever do of any “weighty” author. In addition, anyone who knows me knows that I am a lover of popular, Young Adult literature series: Harry Potter, Eragon, Lemony Snicket, His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass). I would in no way consider myself a book snob in that regards because I truly love reading that genre of books.

So, when a friend recommended the Twilight books to me, and another acquaintance mentioned how she liked them MORE than Harry Potter (heresy!), and when more and more of my students started reading them, I decided I needed to give them a go. Luckily, I borrowed the book from one of my students and did not spend any money on the book, because it would be the first time I could truly say I regretted spending money on a book in my life. I cannot even describe my disappointment and frustration at this book. I cannot believe that this book is a New York Times Best seller and critically acclaimed and – this is the clincher – still being published!

One of my favorite song writers and bloggers wrote about it best in his own blog. You can read it here:

http://www.andyosenga.com/2008/12/18/twilight-a-negative-rabbit-room-review/

I was considering reading the second book after I finished the first one, to see if it got any better, but I have decided that my time would be better spend reading GOOD books. While I am sometimes critical of popular, contemporary fiction (i.e. The Lovely Bones, The DaVinci Code), I have never been so shocked at the popularity of such a badly written book (and its sequels). As a person, I feel as though I should be protesting this book in the streets. The catch 22 is, however, that it is getting my students to read, which is always a goal of mine, so,unfortunately, I have to live with seeing twenty copies of the book trailing through my classroom every day, and numerous posters and pictures of the movie being plastered on folders and daily agendas and binders right before my very eyes. I wonder if I can convince these kids to read any Wordsworth?

However, I do realize now why my seventh graders like the books so much. It is because it is written exactly like a seventh grader would write a book!

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Filed under Reading/Books, School

Open the cover and come take a journey

For those of you who are unaware, which I am sure is not many of you, I am a book worm. I got a lot of books for Christmas, and I have read a lot of books since Christmas. I also gave a few books for Christmas, especially to my husband. One of the books I gave him was a Nick Hornby book that, for a year, kept track of the books Hornby bought and read each month and then review about. Actually, each essay was from a magazine Believer that Hornby wrote for each month. J has gotten quite a few book recommendations from reading this Hornby book and another one similar to it, and I have also glanced through it and read a few of the reviews.

Earlier this week, I saw on a message board someone with a post that mentioned reading 25 books in 2009. While part of me admired this person’s resolve, I also realized that I could easily beat this person in a reading contest. I am well on my way towards 50 books in 2009, and perhaps even more. While I have always loved reading, and growing up, would read a book a day, in my high school and college years I found reading for pleasure taking a backseat as reading for school became more a priority. Required reading for college classes left me with little time or ambition to read on my own. While I would sometimes pick up a book to read, for the most part, I read very little, as least comparatively to my younger years. However, lately, I have found myself with a craving to read. J and I read almost every night in bed, sometimes for an hour or more. We will often find ourselves not planning anything on Saturdays so that we can spend most of the day curled up on the couch, reading. My husband has always been a voracious reader, perhaps even more so than myself, and recently I have rediscovered that voracity as well.

So I have become inspired by Mr. Hornby’s own writing and have decided to emulate him with some book recollecting and reviewing myself. So my New Year’s Resolution is to follow in his footsteps. Each month, I will list the books I have bought (or received) and the books I have read. I will also review the books that I have read, both for your benefit and mine. Let’s think of it as a diary of reading. While I want people to know what I thought about the books that I have read, I also would like to keep track of a year of my reading and reflect back on what I have read, what I have bought (or gotten), and my opinions on them.

At the end of the month, I will post my first one. I am going to start with the books I received and started reading at Christmas, because there have definitely been some good ones. Hopefully, this will turn out to be a beneficial journey for all of us.

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