Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dog or baby?

Dog or Baby?

Though having dogs and children are vastly different experiences, I've often come across some similarities. In order to have a little fun, take this little quiz and try to determine which member of my family caused these problems: dog or baby?

  1. No eating shoes!

  2. Baby

  3. Leave the trash can alone!

  4. Baby

  5. Don't eat toilet paper!

  6. Baby

  7. Out of the kitchen!

  8. Baby

  9. No chewing on the furniture!

  10. Baby

  11. Don't destroy books!

  12. Baby

  13. Let ______ eat!

  14. Baby

  15. Don't destroy the tissue box!

  16. Baby

  17. Don't make that noise!

  18. Baby

  19. Don't get paper out of the trash!

  20. Baby

The ones that apply to both earned you a point for either answer. What did you get? Let me know in the comments!

Adventures in coffee making

Two years ago for Christmas, my husband bought be a beautiful, red coffeemaker. There were many reasons I loved it, including the red color that matches my pop-of-red themed kitchen. Since Baby A has arrived, and my sleep schedule has severely suffered due to his 'sleep is for the weak' mindset, and my coffee intake has increased. I used to just be a weekend coffee drinker, and instead am now a daily coffee drinker.

Sadly, two days ago, my beautiful red coffeemaker went to the big kitchen in the sky. Or, in this case, a landfill in Alaska. This left me with a fairly large problem of planning on moving and needing something I use daily replaced. Conundrum. We finally decided it would be better to just buy a cheap-o coffeemaker to tide us over until our move, rather than buy another nice one just to sell it in a couple of months. But that left me without a coffeemaker for two whole mornings.

Rather than be a menace to all who encounter me during these 48 hours, I decided to try two different methods of making coffee without my beloved brewer.

Day 1: Camping Hacks Method
I saw a random camping hacks article on Facebook that I read, despite my inexperience camping. I'm glad I did, since I needed one bit of information I gleaned from that article. The author recommended tying floss around a coffee filter filled with coffee, then steeping it in your cup of hot water like tea.

I did use floss, but forgot that I accidentally bought the short coffee filters last time, thus making tying the floss a little more difficult. Things I didn't take into account:
~coffee grounds absorb water more than tea, so you need more water than you might think.
~If you're used to moderate to strong coffee, this coffee may taste very weak. Especially if you're new to steeping.

Day 2: Release the tea maker
We have a tea maker that includes a basket for loose leaf tea, so I decided to try brewing coffee, in the filter, in that little basket. Since our tea maker is specifically for iced tea and therefore the pitcher can't handle extra-hot items, I put a glass bowl underneath to collect the coffee. After the weak coffee debacle of the prior day, I added extra water to circumvent the coffee grounds absorbtion. Sadly, I doomed my own coffee again. This time, I had too much water. My coffee is still too weak. Thankfully my husband is bringing home our replacement coffeemaker today, so my ventures into the world of coffeemakerless coffee are coming to an end.

I know this post is very first world problem-y. I'm incredibly blessed to have shelter and food, a home with a loving family. I mostly found my coffee-problem plight humorous, and I wanted to share my experiments in coffee. It's also a nice reminder to appreciate the little technologies that make our daily life just a little bit easier each day.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The anti-princess movement

Recently I saw this:

This makes me sad. Why must we, as adults, push anything on little girls? 

It's okay to pretend you're a Princess. It's okay to play with race cars, climb trees, read books, idolize historic figures, and look up to Disney princesses. Before you shove a 'we as a society' rant down my throat, you should realize you're trying to trade one perpetuated stereotype for another. Criminalizing princesses is just as bad as downplaying a woman's achievements due to a perceived societal stance on beauty. I happen to think Jane Goodall is beautiful as she is, thank you very much. 

'Princess' should not be a deragatory word. Do you know what I learned from Disney princesses?
~ I deserve respect, as an individual, and I should give respect to others (The Little Mermaid)
~ Reading is awesome, books are your friend, and anyone who says otherwise deserves to be insulted with vocabulary they can't comprehend (Beauty and the Beast)
~ Stand up for yourself and don't let anyone objectify you (Aladdin)
~ Working hard is a positive asset, and so is making sure your priorities are straight (The Princess and the Frog)
~ Have grace and respond with kindness, even when others are undeserving (Cinderella)
~ Be careful what you wish for (Brave)
~ Treat nature kindly (Pocahontas)
~ Don't let anyone discriminate against you because you're a woman (Mulan)
~ Sometimes tough love is necessary. (The Lion King)
~ Don't celebrate prematurely. It isn't over until it's over. (Sleeping Beauty)
~ Fierceness and compassion each have their time and place (Tangled)

I could go on, but I think my point is clear. Are there flaws with the princess mentality? Yes.  They are always thin, tall and elegant. But they also treat others kindly, follow their hearts, use their brains, have adventures and are open to discovering new things about themselves. Are there flaws with the anti-princess mentality? Yes. Both sides have to work together for the next generation of women to be able to enjoy being intellectual and beautiful-- these aren't all or nothing character traits. 

So why don't we stop critiquing girls for what they like, and just let them play and be imaginative? Let them be princess astronauts and race car drivers and whatever else they like. Let them be.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Book Reviews

Nothing like crisp air, warm apple cider and a roaring fire to make you want to curl up with a good book. Okay, every season makes me want to read. It's part of being a book addict; I'm constantly wanting to read. Unless, of course, I'm actually reading at the time. Hmm, no, wait. I still want to read while reading. I digress. I've read two exceptionally wonderful books lately that I'd like to share with you. 

First up, Kate DiCamillo's The Magician's Elephant. Absolutley excellent. It may be on of the loveliest, sweetest, most darling books I've ever read.

Though aimed at young readers (ages 9-12, roughly), it's characters and story lines are enjoyable at any age. It's tame enough to be read aloud to younger children, but engaging enough for adults. The characters are so interesting, so complex, that you become deeply invested in their fate. 
While leading separate lives, several characters become connected through one simple, magical occurrence. A fortune teller, a boy, a soldier, a police officer, a noble woman, a magician, a servant, another noble woman, a homeless man, a homeless man's dog, an orphan, a carver, and an elephant make up the cast, and they're just as varied and unique as they sound.
Above is just one of the many lovely illustrations that accompany the melodic prose. The primary themes focus on hope and family, with a dash of following your heart. It's a touching story, well written, and not one you'll soon forget.

The House Girl, by Tara Conklin, I happened upon at the library. It deals with heavy materials, stomach dropping tragedies, and weaves time together from pre-Civil War experiences to present.

It does start off a tad slow; I was much more concerned with the slave story line than the modern lawyer's for the first sixty pages or so. Then Conklin reeled me in like a fish, and I didn't want to put the book down. Only a book addict would stay up reading for two hours after both her baby and her husband went to bed. Though I was more tired for a few days, I didn't regret staying up to finish the book.

Conklin's debut novel is well-written, thoroughly researched (or so I assume, as it seems historically accurate and I didn't notice any contradictions). Portraying slavery and racism is always tricky, but Conklin executes it well. We see many unique characters that are not stereotyped, as well as the different issues of house slaves and field slaves. 

Conklin ties everything together nicely, but this is not an easy, happy read. The plights these characters face is not so different than slaves actually did face, and some moments can be hard to get through. We also see a glimpse of the Underground Railroad, and its operators. 

Overall, a good (if tough, emotionally) read.

I hope this helps your fall book hunt. My advice is to grab a book, snuggle under a blanket, and read away these grey days. Happy reading!

I'd love to hear what you've been reading in the comments section!

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Spell Block Tango, Remixed

Recently I saw a video making it's way around the internets of Disney villains singing a Disney-fied version of Chicago's Cell Block Tango.

Um, yes please! I eagerly watched it and was thoroughly impressed by the singing, the costumes, make-up and overall production quality. The only thing I found to be lacking was the lyrics. Cruella killing Jasper and Horace? The Evil Queen hooking up with Doc? Ursula and Prince Eric? What Disney movies did they watch--if any?

You can see the original video here: 

In the spirit of Halloween and righting some wrongs, here are my lyrics to the Disney Spell Block Tango:

And now the six merry murderesses of the Captain Hook County Jail
In their rendition of 'The Spell Block Tango'

They had it coming, they had it coming
They only had themselves to blame
If you'd have been there, if you'd have seen it
I betcha you would have done the same


Dalmatians are all I wanted
A simple dog fur coat
I just love furs, I worship furs
Those little white rats are born spotless
Who knew? 

My henchmen failed me
My puppies escaped, ran away
I swear the rascals tried covering their tracks.

So I stole some dogs
Tried to skin them for coats
I just worship furs...

They had it coming, they had it coming
They only had themselves to blame
If you'd have been there, if you'd have heard it
I betcha you would have done the same

(Evil Queen)
I was the fairest in the land
For years and years
No one could hold a candle to me

Then one day my mirror says to me
"Snow White is the fairest"
What am I supposed to do?
Let it go? Lose? No, not me.
Stepdaughter or not, I'd remain
The fairest of them all.

So I hired an assassin
He failed; some things you just gotta do yourself.
I took a corset, a poisoned comb 
But the little wench wouldn't die
But an apple... So sweet.

She had it coming, she had it coming
She took a flower in its prime
And then she used it and she abused it
It was a murder but not a crime

I was fine, just fine
Then the royals treat me wrong?
Exclude me from the party?
I AM the party.

So I go anyway, gift in hand.
The ungrateful wretches don't want my gift
No more crying baby, and they just turn their noses up.
Those 'good' fairies may have changed my curse
But the spindle always turns.

If you'd have been there, if you'd have seen it
I betcha you would have done the same

(Queen of Hearts)
She comes into my land
Destroys my property
Steals my food
Spreads discourse among my people...

But did you do it?
Uh uh: not guilty 

The second brother
Never head of the pride;
Mufasa won it all
Girls, glory, son 

Then I'm 3rd in line for the throne?
I have a following
They want ME to rule

So I set it up. 
Two birds, one stone
And a nice little cover story too.

But one came back
Took me by surprise
But the hyenas, they think
I'm in charge.

Well, I was in such a state of shock
I couldn't stop the hyenas charging.

They had it coming, they had it coming
They had it coming all along
I didn't do it, but if I done it
How could you tell me that I was wrong?

They had it coming, they had it coming
They had it coming all along
I didn't do it, but if I done it
How could you tell me that I was wrong?

I had a contract
Legal and binding
Her voice for human legs
All she had to do was make a prince
Fall in love.

The tramp almost won. 
But she who holds the scroll 
Makes the rules.
Then they killed my pets.
Whose to say what I did next?

The dirty bum, bum, bum, bum, bum
The dirty bum, bum, bum, bum, bum

They had it comin', they had it comin'
They had it comin' all along
'Cause if they used us and they abused us
How could they tell us that we were wrong?

They had it coming, they had it coming
They only had themselves to blame
If you'd have been there, if you'd have seen it
I betcha you would have done the same.

There you have it. Less theatrics, but an obligingly correct story line. What Disney villain would you want to see singing the Cell Block Tango?