Friday, October 30, 2009

My Very Own Betsy Tacy


In stead of a "Halloween Party" at school today, they had "Dress Up As Your Favorite Literary Character Day" for their Accelerated Reading program.

I was thrilled when my 8 yr old wanted to be Tacy, from the Betsy-Tacy series!!

We pulled a costume from the theatre costume shop -- since her mother DOES NOT under any circumstance, sew.

I think she looks good!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Controversy

I don’t look like a controversial blogger.

I have pretty flowers adorning my mast head.

I have nice quotes trying to inspire my visitors.

I have pretty book covers on my side bar.

I talk about mother/daughter book group and libraries and recipes and my favorite things.

Even though I love politics, I will NEVER talk about my political opinion here. Not the venue, not the forum.

This is a place about nice, happy, thoughts. (Unless you are a Texas football fan, then I will take you down!)

But, my blogging career didn’t start out so hot.

My 1st post, which I thought was a tongue-in-cheek, mocking, even funny, portrayal of Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog, GOOP, crashed and burned into a name calling, she said-she said, fiesta! I was stunned and embarrassed and totally unprepared for the debate I created.

My next post on the group blog was about something very safe – laundry.

So, when I critiqued The Help, even though I was negative, I was rather vague on my reasons why I didn’t like it, because I don’t like confrontation. I had issues with it, but didn’t want to get into a debate about the book. Nor did I want to fault the author. I’m sure she is a lovely woman.

As a result of my mini-rant, the last thing I expected was to get an email from a New York Times reporter asking me if I would be “willing to talk” to her about my dissenting review.

Yes, The New York “Freakin” Times!

Holy Book Bloggers Batman!

What the heck am I going to say to a NYT reporter? Without sounding like a bumbling, idiot, SAHM, who hasn’t worked outside the home in 9 years (until recently), and has a brain that has shriveled up to the size of a pea?

But, I agreed.

And she called.

And we talked. About 15-20 min.

I’m not sure what I said. I was a nervous wreck. I tried to be NICE about why I didn’t like it – that I felt white folks, like myself, would have a hard time portraying what it would be like to be a black maid in the pre-civil rights 1960s; that I am glad the author gave a “voice” to these women – but what do African-American women think of this portrayal? Is it accurate? I wanted to plead, “Please don’t make me sound like a raving lunatic! I’m a really nice person! I don’t need my pretty, low on the totem pole, only gets 20 hits a day, blog to be destroyed by one quote!”

Anyway…I’m sure I said something “controversial” and whenever this piece is published (and, no, I don’t know when it goes to print) I think I will seek safety in the witness protection program!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Perfect Mother/Daughter Give-a-way!

This is a PERFECT giveaway!

Booking Mama couldn’t have better timing! She’s sponsoring a Mother/Daughter book club give-a-way on her blog! Here are the details:

Cindy has graciously offered to giveaway two copies of her new book BOOK BY BOOK to two lucky winners. And remember how much I enjoyed THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB by Heather Vogel Frederick (you can read my review here)? Well, Heather has offered up ten sets of THE MOTHER DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB series (THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB, MUCH ADO ABOUT ANNE, and DEAR PEN PAL) to two lucky winners -- that's five sets of three books each. That means that two of you will win five sets of THE MOTHER DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB series plus a copy of BOOK BY BOOK. What a fantastic opportunity for someone who is currently in a mother-daughter book club or thinking about starting one!

I really want to win this one!

Mother Daughter Inaugural 3rd Grade Book Group

I have a confession, this happened last Tuesday night. However, my own daughter, the one I started this for, was home sick all last week with a fever fluctuating between 101-103 (was it H1N1? I have no idea – I couldn’t even get her an appointment with a pediatrician. Our neighbor, who is an ER pediatrician, advised me, “The fever is not your enemy, but if she starts having trouble breathing, get her in immediately.”). So my precious sweetie couldn’t even attend. Huge bummer! But I persevered, because I wasn’t going to let any pig virus derail our first meeting!

I was really nervous about whether I could pull this off. I wasn’t sure how committed any of the mothers/daughters were to this activity. And I wasn’t sure whether our choice -- the old-fashioned Betsy-Tacy – was going to appeal to our Hannah Montana–reared daughters. Terror really set in when at 6:35pm (we were supposed to start at 6:30pm) no one was there!

But, guess what? Twosomes showed up! 4 of them in fact! I was thrilled and heaved a big sigh of relief.

I talked a bit about how I thought our book group should proceed – with the daughters doing the author report and asking the questions – with the moms providing assistance when needed. I also gave them a list of rules that I “borrowed” from Caroline by line (thank you Caroline!) that proved invaluable.

And from there the evening took care of itself. The girls, I’m happy to report, LOVED Betsy-Tacy!! I mean they REALLY LOVED this book! There is something to be said for timeless stories about girls and their friends. One of the girls’ favorite scenes was when Betsy and Tacy “pretended” they were floating on a feather. Nothing like make believe! And the moms loved it too. I wasn’t the only mom that hadn’t heard of this book or read it as a child. Some of the girls were more vocal than others. But I’m hoping the more shy girls will follow the others example.

We’ve agreed to meet once a month (except for December, because of the holidays) until school is out. And we’ve committed to read the remaining 3 Betsy Tacy juvenile books (Betsy, Tacy and Tib, Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown and Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill).

I am so excited about this endeavor. I’ve wanted to start something that was special to me and my daughter. Now, I have to cross my fingers that next month she is healthy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Book Clubbing at Booking Mama's!


A big shout out to Julie at Booking Mama for my guest post today!

I love me some book group!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wanna Go to a Singles Dance?

After reading this...

and watching this...



and this...




I'm most definitely buying and reading this...



She looks like she needs a new best friend? I wonder if she would consider me?!

More than you ever wanted to know!

I received an inquiry from Cheya from Bloggin Around the States, to share a little more about myself for her readers. After I finished her questionnaire, I thought I would post it here too!

1. Start by telling us a little bit about yourself. (family, job, likes, dislikes, favorites, idiosyncrasies, pet peeves, or anything else you'd like to share that will help us know you better)

Melissa Mc (aka Daisy Mom): I am a 42 yr old mother of 3; wife of 1; daughter, sister, friend, aunt; lover of football, politics, food, travel, walking, theatre and all things literary. I currently work part-time at our local library branch – I’m in charge of JUV fiction and Mysteries. I’m also President-elect of my kids elementary school PTA. I am without talent in most normal Mormon activities – I don’t paint, sew, craft, scrapbook or quilt. I can be found in front of the TV during every March Madness college basketball tournament and on every Saturday during college football season. My youngest was born with a congenital heart defect and had open heart surgery at 5 weeks. I know more about Children’s Hospitals than I ever wanted too. And when I grow up, I want to be the first female commissioner of the NFL.

2. What do you love about your state? (please include the name of your state)

I’m not a native of Arkansas. We moved here 8 years ago from NYC when my husband changed jobs. There are LOTS of things to love about Arkansas: First, it is absolutely gorgeous. Most of the state is located on the edge of the Ozark Mountains – not the Rockies, but spectacular terrain, nonetheless. It is a great recreational state – hunting, camping, rafting, hunting for diamonds– of course, my husband and I are city-folk, so we don’t partake in those activities like we should. It also is incredibly affordable!! And during this national recession, that has been a huge blessing!

3. Is there anything you don't like about where you live?
The HEAT! It is oppressive here in the summer. The heat and humidity can knock you flat. But other than that, we’ve loved our years in Arkansas.


4. If job, money, family did not enter the equation, would you prefer to live in another state? Which one? And why?
I’ve lived a lot of places – and if I had my choice I would move back to Washington DC in a heartbeat (and not suburb – like Arlington VA -- the heart of Washington DC, preferably the Capitol Hill neighborhood). It’s where my husband and I met – and I had my first job. It’s a magical place for me. And if money wasn’t an object – I’d transport myself there immediately.


5. If I visited your state what cities, sights, and/or activities would you recommend I check out, see and/or do?

In Little Rock they have a fabulous "River Market District” that positions itself on the banks of the Arkansas River. Lots of fun shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Just a few blocks from the River Market District is the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center – a must see for any visitor. For historical significance, a stop at Little Rock Central High School's museum. More than 50 years ago, 9 African American students were used as pawns as they attempted to desegregate Central High during the Civil Rights movement. Little Rock is also home to the only professional theatre in our state – The Arkansas Repertory Theatre. They self-produce and design 6-7 shows a season. Little Rock is also home to the Arkansas Symphony and the Arkansas Arts Center.

NW Arkansas – you must got to Fayetteville and visit the campus of the U of Arkansas – and go “call the Hogs” at an Arkansas Razorback game. In Bentonville – you would visit the Walton/WalMart Museum and see where Sam Walton started it all!

For an Ozark get-a-way – you would visit Mount Magazine state park and rent one of their wonderful cabins! We did that as a family, and it was one of the best vacations we’ve had.


6. Who are some authors that currently live in your state? Any famous authors from the past?


National Book Award winner, Ellen Gilchrist, lives in NW Arkansas.
Charlaine Harris – author of the Sookie Stackhouse series lives in Magnolia AR.
Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead, lives in Little Rock.
John Grisham, is originally from AR – but lives in Memphis
Charles Portis, author of True Grit, Norwood and The Dog of the South, is originally from El Dorado AR, and lives in Little Rock.

Dee Brown, author of Bury My Heat at Wounded Knee, after retiring from the U of Illinois, retired and died in Little Rock.


7. Do you have a favorite book set in your state?
Now you are testing my knowledge of Arkansas literature! Two that I highly recommend: The Painted House by John Grisham. It’s a fictional account of his childhood in NE Arkansas on a cotton farm. It’s a wonderful book. So different from his legal thrillers. And, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou – her autobiography of her childhood in southern Arkansas. It is a must read.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Celebrate National Day on Writing

Did you know today, October 20th, has been designated by a Senate Resolution as the National Day on Writing?

So in honor of this day – blog, write a letter, write a journal entry, twitter, or write a comment on your favorite blog (like mine!). Or go read your favorite author, columnist or blogger. Can I recommend Dandelion Mama's personal blog — because the girl can write!

I have sick kids today (When is it considered the flu? When temps are higher than 104? Geesh…when will this ever end!), so I think I will honor writing day by starting a new book. The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte has been calling my name.

How will you celebrate??!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Why Flying Children?

Art departments in publishing firms must follow trends.

Consider the following:

Come Back: A Mother and Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back, by Claire Fontaine

Come Back: A Mother and Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back


And
The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan

The Middle Place


And
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

The Hour I First Believed (P.S.)

I guess the Madison Avenue big wigs (who certainly know more than I) sit around a big, expensive table and answer questions like, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea – I think pictures of children floating in air will really convey the essence of this book – whaddya think?"

Creativity Is Not Dead!

At the beginning of the summer, I set a goal to try to be more creative. For the most part, I was successful. However, as with any goal I seem to set, I got lazy, and eventually quit.

One thing that I tried that I got “hooked” on was painting pottery. Our local pottery studio has a “ladies night” once each month, and for 5 months I’ve been going with a group of girlfriends and painting pottery. I’ve missed the past two months because of vacation and conflicts. But last Thursday I returned -- and this is what I made –

Before:



After:



I’m not an ARTIST – but I find painting pottery is very forgiving. I wanted to make something for Halloween – preferably a candy bowl. But I decided “pumpkins” were more holiday-neutral. I have since decided to give this to my Mom for her birthday. Probably the 1st homemade gift I’ve EVER given her in my life!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fall Festival Recipe Exchange



What a great idea!

Amy, from My Friend Amy, has started a Fall Festival Recipe Exchange. It's a great chance to celebrate the wonders of the fall harvest and enjoy good, comfort food from fellow bloggers.

I hope you enjoy my contributions!

Pumpkin French Toast
1/ 2 cup canned solid packed pumpkin
6 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 slices (or more) “Texas-toast” style loaf bread
Non stick spray

1. Whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, milk, and salt in a large bowl. Place the bread in baking dish and pour the pumpkin mixture over and turn the bread to coat evenly. Let sit for 5 minutes.

2. Spray griddle with non stick spray and heat to medium-high. Place 4 slices of the bread on griddle and cook until golden brown on 1 side, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the slices over and cook until golden brown, 2-3 minutes longer. Re spray with non stick spray if necessary; repeat with remaining bread. Serve with syrup.

Pumpkin Soup
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
3 garlic cloves, minced or chopped
1 large onion, diced
1 1/4 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
3 cups chicken broth
16-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin (or squash)
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

Melt butter or margarine in a large saucepan, and sauté garlic and onions till golden brown. Add curry powder, salt, coriander, and cayenne pepper; simmer gently for 2 minutes. Stir in broth and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.

Add pumpkin, stirring till smooth. Add evaporated milk. Heat over medium heat for 5 minutes; don't allow soup to boil (but a simmer is OK).

For a smoother soup, in batches, transfer soup to blender or food processor. Process till very smooth. Serve hot.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

RED RIVER RIVALRY!!

There is nothing much more to say other than this --



VS.



This is the biggest game of the year for any Sooner or Longhorn fan.

Our chances are slim -- but nothing is a given in The Cotton Bowl!

SOONER BORN AND SOONER BRED, AND WHEN I DIE I WILL BE SOONER DEAD,
RAH OKLAHOMA, RAH OKLAHOMA, RAH OKLAHOMA
OKU!

Book Review -- The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield


My rating: 3 of 5 stars










The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield, was the perfect choice for our October/Halloween book group: a story filled with ghost tales, crumbling estates, mysterious accidents and madness.

Margaret Lea has been asked by prolific but reclusive writer, Vita Winter, to act as scribe and storyteller for her biography. Margaret must spend the next few months living and learning of the horrors of Miss Winter’s life, while coming to terms with her own demons.

Miss Winter has some serious familial issues: an ancestry overflowing with incestuous relationships, mental illness, abuse and neglect. Much like Brontë – she has a “crazy Uncle in the nursery” instead of the “crazy wife in the attic.” She has been raised by the estate's caretakers and has a dysfunctional relationship with her twin sister. Life was not good at her family’s estate, Angelfield, and Miss Lea is left to put the pieces together.

For the most part, I enjoyed this book. I thought Ms. Satterfield’s prose was glorious. Her descriptions of Angelfield and the moors were exact. I often caught myself looking out the window to see if the fog was rolling in. And when you get to the scene in the nursery – seriously – you will be cleaning your house for weeks! It was perfectly spooky and creepy. However, as Miss Lea solves the mystery around Miss Winter’s life, I wanted to stop and say, “Huh? Really?” I just didn’t get it. And the ending, was too perfectly tied up with a bow for my taste.

This novel is Ms. Setterfield’s homage to all things gothic, DuMaurier and Brontë.

But DuMaurier and Brontë would have done it better.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lookin' Good Award!



I recieved this wonderful award from Heather at Gofita’s Pages. Thanks so much! I really should pass this along to my designer, Leelou – but I think I will keep it myself!

This award is meant as a pat on the back to those paying particular attention to their blog presentation, and goodness knows some of them look awesome! Of course none of them are pretty empty shells, so there’s no shame to mention how nice their blogs are!

Here are the rules:
1. Post the award on your blog, with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.

2. Pass the award to 5 other blogs that you particularly like. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

1. A Comfy Chair and a Good Book
2. Bloggin 'bout Books
3. Life is a Spasm who flow
4. Reading for Sanity
5. The Book Nest

Friday, October 9, 2009

Book Reivew -- The Help

The Help The Help by Kathryn Stockett


My rating: 3 of 5 stars








This book has been raved about by every book blogger on the bloggersphere or bloggernacle. So, if you want a glowing review, there are many to choose from. But you won't find it here.

I will be brief, because it’s taken me so long to read The Help (6 weeks – that’s insane) I don’t think I can spend any more time to write a review, because I want to be done. I am a lone dissenter in the high praise for this book. I hated it, I loved it; I was offended, I was bored; I was angry, I felt guilty; I cried: My emotions and feelings about this book were all over the place. My final reaction was that it was racist. Maybe because I live in the South and I can’t separate myself from my surroundings and my state’s history. But, that’s how I felt. Sorry, I’ve got no other great metaphorical explanation.

But since it’s the “book du jour” in the publishing world and The New York Times, I think you should read it regardless of how I felt about it.

My copy is available!

Postscript: One more thing I would like to add...that I didn't in my rant(because, like I said, I was DONE), but every book review I've read was by a white woman -- every quote on the back dust jacket is by a white woman -- I really would like to know what the African American community thinks of this book?? One of the many things that bothered me about this book -- even though, that wasn't the book's fault.

View all my reviews >>

It's raining it's pouring...




It is a torrential down pour here in my lovely little village. A perfect day for an “all day pajama day.” I am so back logged on my reading, I need to crawl back in bed with my book club book and The Help, which has taken my two months to read! When will this book ever end? Wait until you hear that review! But I also need to clean house, swap out summer clothes/winter clothes for my kids and work on PTA responsibilities.

Why aren't our choices as mothers more like: Go jump in rain puddles? Run outside and try to catch rain drops on your tongue? Catch rain in an upside down umbrella? Turn out all the lights in the house and watch the lightening? Take a nap, even though it's only 9:30am?

So, what's the vote? Reading and a nap?

All in favor say AYE
All opposed NAY
The AYES have it!

Wake me up in two hours!

In the mean time, will someone fold the laundry and mop the kitchen floor? Then possibly track down a few auction items for the PTA fundraiser?

Thanks for the love.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mother Daughter Book Group

(We are NOT reading the book pictured below...but it had a good title for this post!)




I was not a reader in elementary school. I was not a reader in high school. I was not a reader in college. I did not become a reader until my early adult years, thanks to my very 1st book group. I'm trying to avoid the same fate for my daughter, who has tendencies like her mother.

So, with the help of her 3rd grade teacher, I've decided to start a book group for all third grade girls and their mothers. I wish something like this had been available to me when I was her age. I think I would have discovered the joy of reading much sooner.

There has been lots of buzz on several book blogs about the classic series Betsy-Tacy. With that in mind, we have chosen for our book selection, the 1st in the series, Betsy-Tacy, by Maud Hart Lovelace.



I was totally unfamiliar with this series, which was 1st published in the 1940s. There is a book challenge over at Library Hospital if anyone is interested.

I'm really excited about this opportunity. I've already received tons of positive feedback from the other mothers. And my daughter is excited too, which is the most important thing.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Miami, Oklahoma

That's the name of my hometown...it's also today's biggest game!



VS.



Vinny Testaverde is looking to make a national statement, but Jamelle Holieway and the Oklahoma wishbone have been unstoppable so far and ... what? It's not 1986? This didn't quite have the makings of the special mid-1980s showdown, but it had the potential to be one of the signature games of the season before Miami got its clock cleaned by Virginia Tech in an ugly 31-7 loss. Even with the setback, this has the makings of a big year for the resurgent Hurricanes with excellent athleticism on both sides of the ball and a terrific leader in QB Jacory Harris to build around. A win over Oklahoma would still be big, really big, and it would show that the 'Canes really can hang with anyone in America. It would also show they can adjust and bounce back through adversity.

Oklahoma has battled back through the Sam Bradford injury to obliterate Idaho State and Tulsa by a combined score of 109-0. While that might not seem like that big a deal, the OU defense has allowed two long BYU drives and that's been it for the first three games. The Sooners have been in a holding pattern waiting to see if Bradford will play again this year, but they have to try to go on one way or another and come up with an impressive win to get back into the national title chase. And yes, they're still in the national title chase. If they can win this week, and look good doing it, and run the table with wins over Texas, at Kansas, at Nebraska, at Texas Tech, against Oklahoma State, and in the Big 12 title game, yes, they'll almost certainly be in Pasadena unless there are two unbeaten BCS league teams.



Why Oklahoma might win: If you liked what the Virginia Tech defensive front did to the Miami offensive line, you'll love what Oklahoma's front four is about to do. The Cane offensive line got obliterated by the Hokies as Jason Worilds and friends hammered Harris all game long, allowing just 59 rushing yards. When Harris got time in the first two games, he ripped apart Florida State and Georgia Tech. When he was under duress against the Hokies, he went 9-of-25 passes for 150 yards with an interception. Oklahoma's defensive line is much better than Virginia Tech's, leading the nation in tackles for loss and cranking out 12 sacks in just three games. The Sooners also lead the nation in run defense, giving up just 41 yards per game

Why Miami might win: Of course it's not this easy, but Miami beat Florida State, Florida State annihilated BYU, and BYU beat Oklahoma. Yeah, sure, the Sooners have been national-title-good over the last two games, but that was against Idaho State and Tulsa. In those two games there were four turnovers, and the offense still has to answer for the pathetic performance against BYU, even without Bradford. BYU was able to throw for 329 yards and two scores even though Max Hall was sacked four times and the OU defense was dominant for long stretches. Miami isn't going to be able to put up a huge number on the Sooners, but the defense should come up with at least two takeaways, more likely three, and Harris has to have a short memory. There will be times when the OU D tees off on Harris, and there will be several ugly three-and-out drives that fizzle from the get-go, but if he can be patient and get the ball out of his hands in a hurry, something he wasn't able to do in the rain of Blacksburg last week, the Cane offense will move. He's a good enough decision maker to keep the Sooner linebackers on their heels with a short to midrange passing game.

Who to watch: With Sam Bradford declared out as a starter for this game, much will ride on the arm of Landry Jones, who overcame a rough thrown-to-the-wolves performance against BYU to hit Idaho State for three touchdown passes and toss six against Tulsa. He'll make rookie mistakes and he'll have to prove he can handle himself against the speed of the Miami defense, but he has the running game to fall back on and the two games of target practice to be ready for a game like this. For Miami, the offense gets back a huge piece of the puzzle with the return of Aldarius Johnson, the star receiver who caught three passes for 48 yards against Florida State before missing time with a groin injury. He practiced this week, and according to head coach Randy Shannon, looked great. Harris needs all the weapons he can get, and Johnson is a difference maker.

http://msn.foxsports.com/cfb/story/173612

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Celebrate Book Groups!!


October is National Reading Group Month sponsored by the Women's National Book Association.

The 2009 "Great Group Reads" for the year are:


Appassionata by Eva Hoffman

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë by Syrie James

The House on Fortune Street by Margot Livesey

Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz

While I'm Falling by Laura Moriarty

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

Cost by Roxana Robinson (I re-shelved this at the library today, I should have checked it out!)

Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie


I haven't read ANY of these...but recently purchased The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. Anyone familiar with any of the above??? I need to add them to my Goodreads list!