Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rich Kid Stockings

Recently I was looking over the Pottery Barn Kids catalog while I ate my lunch. I almost choked (figuratively speaking) when I saw this picture:

Look at the size of the boy's stocking! It's as big as he is! Possibly bigger. I know Pottery Barn is swank and pricey and caters to a certain clientele, the kind of clientele who can get jumbo-sized stockings for their kids and fill them with $200 worth of gifts (or a dozen of Santa's elves--these look roomy enough). But this isn't a rant against the rich (despite the title of this blog post). It's a rant against stockings that are as big as children. I guess there's nothing like gigantic stockings hung on the mantel to set the tone of the holiday, right? Even if I were the richest woman in the world I'd never choose stockings this big. I think it's tacky and very materialistic. I'm sorry Pottery Barn; I really like you and the lovely glossy design layouts in your catalogs, but I'm not buying this (literally!). Stick with the Regular size you offer and discontinue this ridiculous Jumbo size!

What do you think? Am I being an oversensitive Scrooge, or are these stockings too big for even Santa to fill?

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Latest and Greatest Book Reviews!

A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple by Kathryn Lasky
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is a good book series and is an easy, enjoyable way to read about U.S. history in various time periods and settings. I enjoyed this book; it was well-written and it drew a vivid picture in my mind of what life on the Mayflower and in Plimoth must have been like. (Yes, it's Scholastic so it's written for kids, but these are good for adults too. I bought a couple of books from this "Dear America" series at a book sale because I love American history and I like how this series makes reading about it fun and interesting and does it through the eyes of observant, smart girls.)

 The Life of Our Lord by Charles Dickens
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is a gem! It's a lovely quick read and is perfect for both children and adults. It's beautifully and simply written by a master writer who had no need to embellish the life story of Jesus Christ, which is beautiful enough in and of itself. This is worth re-reading many times as well as owning. 

Woman's Life in Colonial Days by Carl Holliday
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I stopped reading this book at page 134 when I thought I was going to die of boredom. This was written in 1922, which I didn't realize when I got the book, so the non-fiction writing style is antiquated and not very well-written or entertaining. The author includes way too many quotes from direct sources like journals and letters. Some quotes are informative and interesting, but too many and you feel like you're reading a (badly written) research paper. He makes many questionable assumptions and presents them as fact, which he wouldn't be able to get away with very easily today, and he meanders off topic often. There is some interesting information here, but it's too bad that it's presented in the way that it is.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Gingerbread House in My Neighborhood

There is a real gingerbread house in my neighborhood. Well, it's not really real, but it's designed just like one and it's really pretty. When I came out to Iowa last December when we were exploring the possibility of moving here, a real estate agent showed me around and she drove me by this house and neighborhood to show that there are indeed some unique houses in the area. Little did I know that about seven months later we'd be moving in right down the street!

As you can see I took these pictures in the summer. I waited to post them until now because this is the season of gingerbread houses. I didn't take close-ups of the details of the house because I didn't want the neighbors to think I was any crazier than I already looked. But believe me, this house has intricate beautiful details and is truly a standout in the area. (Am I starting to sound like a real estate agent? Sorry.)

This cute "gingerbread" ranch house is right across the street from the gingerbread house. I love its stone face and the brickwork and wooden shutters. So pretty!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

Friday Fragments are a fun way to sum up the week or to write about any bits of randomness that have been floating around in your head for awhile. They're the creation of the lovely Mrs. 4444 at Half Past Kissin Time.
And now, on to this week's fragments...

*I've decided to give up Saturday Night Live. I think the humor on it can be really funny and I like the political satire and current events commentary, but some of the sketches and jokes can be really crass and it's getting worse. It's really not worth watching things that are offensive to me even when there's some good fun entertainment mixed in with it. So, good-bye SNL. Until you clean up your act (and I'm not holding my breath on that), you've lost a viewer who could have done awesome publicity for you on her blog (ha ha).

*On the other side of the spectrum, we watched a really good movie this week that I highly recommend: The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock. What an inspirational feel-good story this is! And the best part is, it's based on a true story. It's the best movie I've seen in awhile. If you haven't seen it, see it!

*I can't believe Bristol Palin made the finals of Dancing With the Stars. I think she has a decent shot of winning the whole thing next week, even though there have been far more talented dancers on the show this season. Bristol the Pistol is in it to win it!

*I read hundreds of pages this week in order to get the book read for my book club meeting last night. We read The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Great book! I highly recommend it. Similar to The Blind Side, it involves black-white relationships in the South. I'm glad I read it, and that I read it on time! (See my pithy book review in the post below.)

*It's starting to get pretty cold here. I've heard a lot about severely cold Iowa winters. I'm not looking forward to it and am preparing to go into hibernation mode as much as I can for the next few months.

*She is a lucky lady. That's going to be quite the wedding next summer!

*My mother is coming here from Massachusetts tomorrow for a week! For the first time ever Peter and I are going to be having our own Thanksgiving meal. I'm excited for my mom to come, excited for Thanksgiving, excited to go see the Broadway touring version of Mary Poppins the day after Thanksgiving in Des Moines, excited that Christmas is coming. What can I say; it's a very exciting time!

*I'm taking next week off from blogging and the blogosphere. There's just too much excitement going on right now. I'm thankful to anyone and everyone who reads my blog. I'm thankful for a whole lot more but I won't get started on that, I've been rambling long enough. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Book Review: The Help

The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great book that brings the civil rights era of the 1960s vividly to life in Jackson, Mississippi. I enjoyed the characters and their stories and perspectives very much.

I will never think of chocolate pies the same way again (unfortunately!).

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Midwestern Fall

I wasn't quite sure what to expect of fall here in the Midwest. Since I'm from New England--the land famous for beautiful fall foliage, where almost every street you drive down in the fall looks like a postcard--I knew I had to lower my expectations a bit. It's a good thing I did! The leaves do change colors here and it's lovely, but it's not close to the breathtaking profusion of colors that you'll find everywhere in New England. This is a picture I posted on my blog two years ago that I randomly took while running errands around home in Connecticut: 

Yeah, it's not like that here. For starters, there aren't nearly as many trees as there are back East. But I think it's very pretty here in Iowa in the fall. It's a more subtle beauty. The thing I've liked most about it, at least from a photographic perspective, is that it helps me to focus on the little details, like the amazing individual leaves that are the basic building blocks of fall foliage. I'm happy to say that this native New Englander has enjoyed fall in the Midwest, so I guess we'll stick around for some more of them.

I took all these pictures throughout September and October in an exciting place--my backyard!  
(I apologize that I stack my photos one after another instead of putting some side-by-side or in mosaics. I don't know how to do mosaics and whenever I try to put pictures side-by-side it doesn't work. Someday I'll learn!)

The summer green is mixed in with the fall red here. It's a mixture of my two favorite seasons.
Closest of all!
I like the feathery yellow leaves of this giant tree at the back of the yard.

A semi-circle of trees in the next-door neighbor's backyard.
Bare trees can be beautiful too.

I hope you've enjoyed your fall as much as I have!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

-There's been a confirmed case of head lice in my son's kindergarten classroom. Needless to say, I really hope he doesn't get it. My intuition says that he won't. My intuition better be right!

-For some reason I'm having a hard time adjusting to Daylight Saving Time. I don't know if it's because I got up early on Sunday morning to take advantage of the extra hour to get things done before my family got up, and that threw everything out of whack (I was exhausted by Sunday evening instead of being refreshed by the extra hour in the day). I'm still ready to eat lunch at 11:15 instead of the new 12:15 and go to bed an hour earlier than the new real time. My kids are doing fine, it just seems to be me who's having the problem.

-My housekeeping rant of the week: I love my new house but I don't like the Pergo floors in it very much. When I mop, it leaves streaks all over the place. I went online to find the best way to mop Pergo floors and it still didn't work. I miss the glossy hardwood floors of our old house that were easy to maintain. Does anyone have any advice on how to care for Pergo floors?

-My 1-year-old Sam's hair is getting long and is starting to resemble a little white-blond mop atop his head. So tomorrow we're going to take him to get his first haircut. He's been really crabby this week (I think a few teeth are getting ready to come in) so it may not be very fun. Too bad.

-Today there's no school for Parent-Teacher Conferences (it will be my first one ever!). One of the biggest differences I've seen between the school system here in Iowa City and the schools back East are that here there are a lot fewer days off here. This is the first day off since Labor Day over two months ago. In the Northeast they have days off or half-days almost every other week sometimes. I like the way it's done here more because I think it's easier on the kids and on everyone's schedules. It also allows school to get out at the beginning of June instead of closer to the end of it, and I'm all for a nice long summer!

-It's been 70 degrees here this week, and now the possibility of snow is in the forecast for next week. Awesome on both counts!

To read the Friday Fragments of other bloggers go to Half Past Kissin Time. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

These Are a Few of My Favorite Fall Things

-That unmistakable smoky smell of fall in the air when your neighbors burn their leaves.
-Chrysanthemums, otherwise known as mums. (I prefer the longer version thanks to one of my favorite scenes in the movie Anne of Green Gables.)

-Apple orchards and crisp, juicy apples, apple cider, apple turnovers, apple crisp, apple pie...apples are at their best in the fall!

-Pumpkins! On your doorstep, in your house, in great big patches, lined up in rows for sale. Pumpkins everywhere!

-Carving jack o' lanterns, scooping out the goop, and roasting pumpkin seeds. Yummy!

-Slightly corny but cute festive clothes for your kids (and even for you! Thanks, Target)

Sam was not in the mood for this. My shirt says "Boo!"

"Mommy's little pumpkin"

-Corn mazes

-The return of cocoa and hot chocolate and warm soft blankets


This is completely classic.

-Good photo opps like these that can only happen in the fall:

-The beauty of changing leaves and fall foliage. (Want to see what the foliage is like in Iowa and what a native New Englander thinks of it? Stay tuned next week!)

-And the coming of the most wonderful time of the year (at least in my book!). Thanksgiving and Christmas!

What are your favorite things about fall?