Thursday, July 18, 2013

Literary Evolution

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you were inundated with posts about my attendance at Joseph-Beth Bookseller's event featuring Neil Gaiman.

I don't get wrapped up in celebrity, but the opportunity to hear Gaiman speak (he was brilliant, inspiring, hilarious) and get him to sign my first edition of The Ocean at the End of the Lane was just too much for this book nerd to pass up.

For those who are unfamiliar with Gaiman, he rose to fame when he penned "The Sandman" series in 1980s. He went on write some of the best books I have ever read. He wrote the "all ages" novels "Coraline" (my personal Neil Gaiman introduction) and "The Graveyard Book". He has wonderful picture books like "The Wolves in the Walls" and "The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish." He writes beautiful fairytales for adults, for example "Stardust" and his newest, "The Ocean at the End of the Lane". And then there are my personal favorites, "Good Omens" which he wrote with brilliant author Terry Pratchett, and "American Gods", a brick of a novel that I savored every bite of, reading and re-reading passages to make the book last longer.

His stories are deep and rich, dark and scary. They overflow with myth and humor. His characters are dynamic and full of life. But they are also about love and friendship, kindness and growth. I think they're probably a reflection of the man himself.

I love to read good books. And I mean good books. Don't get me wrong - I can put away a steamy romance novel with the best of them. I think Stephen King is one of the best storytellers ever (even if he can't seem to write a decent ending). And I will never, ever criticize or judge anyone else for the books they choose to read. But more and more, I want books that worm their way into my bones. I want Michael Chabon to woo me with his sentence structure. I want Gabriel Garcia Marquez to make me believe in ghosts. I want Neil Gaiman to steal my heart with myth. And I am always looking for the new (to me) writer that has the trifecta of literary win - likable characters, outstanding writing, and a good story.

It should go without saying that I want the same for my daughter.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

and 5 months later.....

I was astonished to find that my last blog post was in January. JANUARY!

That's a lot of time between posts, even for an irregular blogger like me.

I do have a pretty good excuse.

This year's Festival of the Bluegrass was lucky #40. Organizing this kind of event, while juggling a full time job and family takes its toll, and the reality is blogging takes a back seat. No, not a back seat; blogging gets left on the roadside, abandoned and alone. Poor blogging.

Add Festival insomnia to the mix and it gets really fun. Beginning in April, Roy and I would drink our morning coffee and discuss what woke us up in the middle of the night and how long it took us to get back to sleep.

This was taken Saturday morning of the Festival. Don't we look refreshed? (Hint: IT'S A LIE!!)

Now that it's over and we've almost recovered, I can go through some of the pictures and appreciate the memory of it all.

It was a great year, with KET (Kentucky Educational Television, our very awesome PBS station) live streaming the whole thing online and on their various channels throughout the state. Next summer we'll be the featured festival on Jubilee, which is really, really cool.

But what was the best part? This.


And probably the best part of it all? GRANDPARENTS!!

I continue to be grateful that the Festival is so early in the season, for now we're on to the rest of our summer. Sophie and I will take a quick trip to South Dakota for a wedding. The 5 of us will spend a week at Disney World. And there are an abundance of cookouts, camping trips, days at the pool, and who knows what else will crop up.

Hello, Summer. I'm so glad you're here!

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Biscuit Lifestyle

These last 13 years I have said that the name of my autobiography would be, "I'll never get used to the biscuit lifestyle." This title was as much literal as figurative in that I never much cared for biscuits.

Mom would make them when we had beef stew, but that's about the only time I can ever remember eating them. I remember sharing this with Roy and he looked at me with utter confusion as he exclaimed, "What did you EAT!?"

Just as novel was the time my brother called to tell us about this amazing new breakfast food he just discovered called Biscuits and Gravy. Roy had a pretty good laugh over that one.

There's no denying it - I'm a northerner. I grew up on 'weird northern food' (again, compliments of my husband, which I gather to mean anything not fried, cooked in butter, with bacon, or covered in gravy or cheese), I like my winters cold, my heat dry, and I still own a very industrious pair of snow boots. I laugh when I watch an entire city freak out about a threat of winter weather and watch in awe as milk and bread disappear from the grocery stores.

But now everything is different.

Now, I like biscuits.

They're warm and soft, with a great crispy bottom. Delicious with salted butter and homemade strawberry jam or local honey. They're quick to whip up after work or in the morning for breakfast. I always have everything on hand and they take little planning. Not to mention that my family loves them.

So now I embrace the biscuit lifestyle. I still like my winters cold, but I am grateful that in Kentucky they're only a few months long. I still have my winter boots, but pull them out infrequently - and often just because I can. There's something to be said for a humid day, a dip in the pool, and a cold mint julep. And on Wednesday when Chris Bailey told us a winter storm was headed our way, I was relieved to find 3/4 gallon milk in the fridge... and wished I had more eggs - just in case.

And then there are these two, my favorite Kentucky Proud products ever.

Yup, the biscuit lifestyle is pretty darn sweet.

My Biscuits

1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 t salt (table, not kosher)
2 1/2 t baking powder
cut in 3 1/2 T cold, unsalted butter

Using your hands, mix in 3/4 c cold milk until JUST MIXED.

Dump onto lightly floured surface. Pat to about 1/2 inch. Fold in half. Pat. Fold. Pat. Fold. I do it 3-4 times. Finally pat to about 3/4 inch thick, then cut as many biscuits as possible. I use a 2" cutter because I get more first batch biscuits that way and I love the size.

Preheat oven to 450. When oven is hot, bake for 12-15 minutes.*

They do not keep well, so eat all of them. I'm serious.

*This may make no difference, but for some reason my biscuits turn out better when I let them rest for a little bit.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Year in Review - 2012

I blame 'mama brain' on not being able to remember the last 12 months. Oh sure, I remember them. The road trip to Schmeckfest, the milestones of lost teeth, pacifier weaning, removal of braces, etc., but it seems like so long ago... and yet didn't 2012 just start? Amazing.

We all grew this year in a variety of ways.

It's not really fair to Miller that I'm highlighting the pictures that make him look like such a, well, dandy.

He is just so darn cute! And he so doesn't care that he's playing with dolls or wearing pink or getting his toenails painted (at his request.)

Still, Miller is a total boy, obsessed with tractors, trains, and helicopters. His usual tone of voice is LOUD and he runs pretty much everywhere.

This is one sweet boy. Injuries are cured with on-demand kisses, Sophie is regularly greeted with knock-her-down hugs, and he is amazingly gentle for a 2 year old. Sure we have our tantrums and time outs, bedtime can be a really long and exhausting (for the adults) process, but getting to know this boy has probably been the highlight of my year. (and yes, this picture is blurry but just soooo adorable.)

Also this year Roy and I joined the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel, aka, the Church of the Holy Birkenstock. We started attending the more than a year ago, but this year we completed our Catechuminate classes and were accepted by the Bishop as members of the Episcopal Church. We have enjoyed the sense of community it has added to our lives and love being part of a church that (like God) loves everyone, no matter what. There was even room in the Christmas nativity for a duck and giraffe.

Sophie graduated from Kindgergarten in May and is well into her 1st grade year. I don't know about you, but to me these look like two different girls.

She's having a great year, and we're enjoying watching her grow. She's a great reader and loves her teacher. She has a strong group of friends and is really her own person. She's a big fan of science, has a beautiful singing voice, and totally understands the scientific method. In short, she's freaking awesome.

She is delightfully silly, kind, and sensitive. This one has an old soul and has a real love of dark, creepy things - which she inherited from her father. Her favorite book is Coraline by Neil Gaiman and she loves mummies and ghosts. She also, at 6 years old, knows more about comic books than I ever will. 

I think Sophie's such a great big sister because she has this guy as a role model.

This year, Riley GREW. Literally. He's taller than me and can no longer fit into my Crocs to mow the lawn.  

He's a great kid, albeit an often surly 14 year old who is IMPOSSIBLE to get out of bed. It kind of boggles my mind to think that in a little more than three years we'll be sending him off to college. He is smart and a genuinely good person. He's developed a deep love for Doctor Who, going through 7 seasons in a matter of a few months. We're quite proud.

Roy is an amazing husband and father who is, deep down, a day dreaming hippie. These past 5 years have not been easy on him. He quit a job he hated to run the Festival of the Bluegrass, of which he is immensely passionate. This, however, did not translate to a paycheck and he has been been trying to find his footing since. This past fall, Roy went to work for his dad at Cornett & Associates, an appraisal firm in Georgetown. This has been a wonderful growth opportunity for him, not only career wise, but he is learning a tremendous amount from his dad.

He continues to provide wisdom, perspective, and patience to our world - not to mention a fair dose of humor.

As for me... I couldn't ask for more. I continue to love my work at the Library and with the Festival. My kids are kind, healthy and full of love for each other. I get to do the things I enjoy - cook, read, knit, dig in the dirt and, occasionally, relax with some mindless TV (Project Runway and Top Chef respectively). I'm still trying to find the balance between encouraging creative play in my kids and tolerating the mess it creates. Please, let me know if you have found it because I'm not sure it exists.
I love Lexington and Kentucky just seriously kicks ass. I never expected to end up living this life, and yet it is everything I ever hoped for. Color me lucky.

While our family found grace in the every-day, this was not an easy year globally - Syria, Newtown, the Election, Egypt, Palestine, Aurora, strange and scary weather patterns - just to name a few. While I find myself grateful for my personal blessings, these events of war, violence, and intolerance (on both sides of the political spectrum) have brought me to my knees on most Sundays. I'm a glass half full kind of girl and continue to believe that we will find a way to work together in the coming year.

Blessings to you, my friends, and deep love.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I needed a picture of Riley for our Christmas card, and I ended up with two very adorable copycats.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Family Reunion

Moving to Kentucky 10 years ago moved me 1,000 miles away from my family. I was blessed beyond belief to be embraced by my in-laws, and can't imagine what life would be like without them so near to my heart - and in close proximity. I love them and they are truly my family.

But my upbringing, my stories, my childhood... they are different. And there are days when I feel every foot of the 1,000 miles - say thankya for Skype and Facetime. 

An unexpected blessing of living in Lexington is that my mom's hometown - and the town I where I would visit my grandparents when I was small - is only 3.5 hours away.  It took 8 years for that to sink in, but growing friendships with my cousins and a need for that family connection, prompted me to pack up the car and drive north.

Over the past 2 years I've made a couple of trips with Sophie and Miller. This past weekend, my mom flew in and the whole brood - Roy and Riley joining us this time - drove up for a small family reunion.

There are tons of pictures taken this weekend and I have very few. But the highlight was heading to the swinging bridge where I would visit with my grandpa

And walk the trails.

Riley did everything he could to annoy the crap out of my mom.

The experience of older cousins (3rd cousins, if you can believe that!) gave Sophie the confidence to take to the bathroom and put some work into pulling her first tooth. She took the 8 year old's advice of 'wiggle wiggle twist' and it seemed to benefit her.

Still, it took a big brother's patience and iron grip to actually do the deed.

Mom and I were reminiscing on a drive back from a campfire at my cousin's house and she said, "those days are over." While I share her sorrow at their loss, what wonderful memories we are creating now.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

a birthday party

A month ago I asked Sophie who she wanted to have over for her birthday party. She named off 5 girls and it was so. We secured a location - Roy's uncle's property on the Elkhorn Creek - and sent out invitations. Everyone RSVP'd in the positive and lo! A 6th birthday party was born!

Overnight-and-into morning rain showers had me biting my nails, but almost on cue the skies cleared, the temps stayed in the low-mid 70s, and 6 girls and their families arrived.

There was much running.

and the water was perfect for some leisurely canoe rides.

and Sophie was thrilled to be able to place her own candles (though we were under strict instructions - NO Happy Birthday was to be sung. We certainly obliged.)

Still, she was the girl of honor.

and honored she was.

With a cookout on a 6-year old size fire and lots of hotdogs and marshmallows.

This guy also had a FABULOUS time.

Sophie has found 5 kind and beautiful girls to to surround her and these friendships will be nurtured for years to come. What good fortune for us all.

The start to year #7 is pretty darn sweet.