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Passing The Time

28 Mar

Daisy is a very independent little girl, but she likes to have me in the same room with her while she plays. I’m not allowed to knit or read because she is very curious about yarn and books and wants to taste them, tangle the yarn, and tear the pages. It can get a little dull after several hours of sitting on the floor watching my little girl bang blocks together and crawl. One of the best ways I’ve found to relieve the tedium is to listen to podcasts and audiobooks.

Here are some of my favorite podcasts:

This American Life is a public radio show that is also distributed as a podcast. Each week brings a new episode, and every episode has a different theme. The one-hour episode usually consists of several stories relating to the theme. There have been a couple of episodes where I would have been upset if an older child had been listening to it with me – the one that comes to mind is a story where a couple have a “relationship rumspringa” and compete to have more sexual partners than the other in the space of a month. So caveat listener.

The Freakonomics Podcast is another public radio show that is also distributed as a podcast. These are also released weekly, and are also about an hour long. The Freakonomics radio show started with the book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything – a New York Times best-seller authored by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Levitt is an economist fascinated by the riddles of every day life, and Dubner is an author and journalist. The podcast follows in much the same vein as the book and usually is quite entertaining.

At The Intersection of East and West is a podcast distributed by Ancient Faith Radio. It’s a recording of a Christian (or Eastern) Orthodox Church sunday school class for people curious about Orthodox Christianity, and it’s taught by Deacon Michael Hyatt. Hyatt is the chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, so he understands where enquiring Protestants are coming from. It’s a fascinating look at the history, philosophies, and teachings of the Orthodox Church, and he sometimes provides contrasts with the Roman Catholic Church and major Protestant denominations. For anyone curious about the Orthodox Church, this is a fantastic, scholarly resource.

As for audiobooks, I am currently listening to a series of books by Laurie R. King that starts with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. These novels feature Mary Russell, a brilliant young woman born in 1900, who at first is an apprentice to Sherlock Holmes before marrying him when she is 21 and he is in his sixties. It sounds crazier than it actually is, trust me. If you enjoy Sherlock Holmes stories, then you will love the Mary Russell novels. All the wonderful, long-beloved characters are there, plus new characters that are simply delicious. I have just finished A Monstrous Regiment of Women and have just started A Letter of Mary, which are the second and third books in the series, respectively.

Another wonderful series are the Maisie Dobbs books, written by Jacqueline Winspear. Maisie Dobbs is another brilliant woman, born into a housemaid’s life before being discovered by her employer reading classical literature in the library at three in the morning. Rather than sacking her, the liberal-minded matron gets her a proper education and apprentices her to a detective. (Sound familiar?) These books provide incredible color and detail about life during and after World War I. If you like Downton Abbey, then you will love Maisie Dobbs.

Review: You Are My Sunshine by Elizabeth Mitchell

18 Mar Album Cover of You Are My Sunshine by Elizabeth Mitchell
Album Cover of You Are My Sunshine by Elizabeth Mitchell

Album Cover of You Are My Sunshine by Elizabeth Mitchell

Occasionally I’ll review a children’s CD or book, and today is one of those occasions.

You Are My Sunshine by Elizabeth Mitchell is the rare CD that both mother and baby will love. In our home, we call it “the magic CD” because it instantly calms Daisy when she starts to fuss. It is easy for parents to sing along to because several of the songs are covers of childhood classics, and the new songs have easy to understand and memorize lyrics. Also, these lyrics are clever and will bring a smile to your face.

In addition to Elizabeth Mitchell, there are children (sometimes very small children) singing along with her on this CD. I think this is charming, and I like that it encourages children to sing along, but it might not be to everyone’s taste.

Picnic at the Park

16 Mar

The weather was in the seventies today, so Daisy & I met some other mothers and babies at Glasgow Park. This was my first time there and I think I have a new favorite park. There are separate play areas for small and big kids, porta-potties, green grass – everything you want at a park. I took a blanket and we sat down and had a picnic. Daisy ate squashed blueberries and quartered grape tomatoes and I had a PB&J.

Trying a grape tomato for the first time.

Daisy tries a grape tomato and gazes out at the swings.

After lunch, Daisy played “with” the other babies and tried to eat the grass and leaves. There was a four-month-old there and that little guy was just so squishy and adorable and still. I’ve forgotten already what it’s like to have a little little baby.

Daisy tried out the swings for the second time in her life, and this time she loved them. Her first ride in the swing did not impress her at all. She enjoyed them so much this time that she was swinging for an hour! We followed swings with one loop of the walking trail at the park. The trail is very popular, and for good reason. It’s lovely.

This outing reminded me why I love being a stay-at-home mother so much. At any other point in my life, 2:30 on a Thursday would have found me at a desk in an office building, either staring at my computer screen or sitting through a meeting. But on this Thursday, at 2:30 I was walking with my baby in the stroller, enjoying the first warm day of the year together.

Sliced eggplant about to be roasted.

Sliced eggplant about to go in the oven.

Tonight I am making eggplant parmesan with two of the eggplants I bought yesterday. The recipe is Lighter Eggplant Parmesan. It is different from traditional eggplant parmesan recipes in that the eggplant is roasted instead of breaded and fried. I coated the tin foil with olive oil before I put the eggplant slices on it, but I still had problems with them sticking. Maybe more olive oil next time?

I also had my first experience with different oven rack heights affecting the pans differently – my bottom pan browned much more than the top pan. I fixed it by moving the top pan to the lower rack and browning it a little extra. It’s still surprising that a few inches higher or lower in the oven makes such a difference.

I served the eggplant parmesan over gluten-free noodles and it was delicious! It’s not like my father’s eggplant parmesan, which is fried eggplant drowning in cheese with a touch of tomato sauce – completely delicious and unhealthy. This version is more tomato and eggplant heavy, but I still really like it. Definitely a make-again dish.