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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Best Books of 2013

Books are the second most constant thing in my life (family is first of course!) I cannot think of a day where where I wasn't reading..ever. No matter what else is going on, you can always ask me "what are you reading" and I will be able to give you the answer , probably before I could think of what I ate for breakfast. I read 145 books this year..not quite the 150 I was pushing for but hey who's counting...
In no particular order the 11 best books I read;
Songs of Willow Frost, Jaime Ford http://www.amazon.com/Songs-Willow-Frost-Jamie-Ford-ebook/dp/B00BVJG24C/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388359206&sr=1-1&keywords=songs+of+willow+frost

The Ocean at The End of The Lane, Neil Gaiman http://www.amazon.com/Ocean-at-End-Lane-ebook/dp/B009NFHF0Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388359239&sr=1-1&keywords=the+ocean+at+the+end+of+the+lane+by+neil+gaiman

Luther: The Calling, Neil Cross http://www.amazon.com/Calling-John-Luther-Novel-ebook/dp/B0061Q5PZ2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388359277&sr=1-1&keywords=luther+the+calling

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, Andre Sean Greer http://www.amazon.com/Impossible-Lives-Greta-Wells-ebook/dp/B009NF6ZMU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388359317&sr=1-1&keywords=the+impossible+lives+of+greta+wells

Promise Not to Tell, Jennifer Mc Mahon http://www.amazon.com/Promise-Not-Tell-Jennifer-McMahon-ebook/dp/B000SEF4UO/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388359358&sr=1-1&keywords=promise+not+to+tell

The Lake of Dead Languages, Carol Goodman http://www.amazon.com/Lake-Dead-Languages-Carol-Goodman-ebook/dp/B000FCKLWA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388359410&sr=1-1&keywords=the+lake+of+dead+languages

Ordinary Grace, William Kent Kruger http://www.amazon.com/Ordinary-Grace-William-Kent-Krueger-ebook/dp/B008J2G5Y6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388359450&sr=1-1&keywords=ordinary+grace

A Tale for the Time Being , Ruth Ozeki http://www.amazon.com/Tale-Time-Being-Ruth-Ozeki-ebook/dp/B008EKMB82/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388359485&sr=1-1&keywords=a+tale+for+the+time+being

The City of Dark Magic , Magnus Flyte http://www.amazon.com/City-Dark-Magic-Magnus-Flyte-ebook/dp/B008EXNMSM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388359529&sr=1-1&keywords=the+city+of+dark+magic

Fingerprints of You, Kristen-Paige Madonia http://www.amazon.com/Fingerprints-You-Kristen-Paige-Madonia-ebook/dp/B0061Q5KAC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388359604&sr=1-1&keywords=fingerprints+of+you

Mr Penubra's Twenty-Four Hour Bookstore , Robin Sloan http://www.amazon.com/Penumbras-24-hour-Bookstore-Robin-Sloan-ebook/dp/B008FPOIT6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388359664&sr=1-1&keywords=mr+penumbras+24+hour+bookstore

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Good Morning Sunshine

The SUN is out, the temps will climb to the 60's over the next few days. RAIN is predicted, not snow. There are daffodils and tulips starting to poke their way out of the ground. The daylight stays until 6;30. The kids have GONE OUTSIDE to play. The house is a cheery place. Break has been a great time: movies, sleepovers, family dinners, bowling, birthday celebrations, play dates, giant Lego plans, all boys enjoying their time together. Ryan is even wading through his enormous pile of homework assigned..2 large projects, 3 huge packets. I am in a good mood. Working on trickier projects. Brady has learned to tie his shoes. Mitchell is plowing through his assigned reading and entertaining us with all his food facts.  Mom and Dad here for dinner tonight. One car fixed, one car taking a break from being fixed and going to the back yard until we can figure out money, time and whether or not to sell it. Enough groceries in the house to make it through the next 2 weeks. Randy working on newer art projects, schemes. More importantly he was recognized at work for being innovative..and that will get him through another month at least.  In the midst of the Easter egg coloring we unearthed the Twin Peaks mug from my incredible trip to Seattle and surrounding areas, with my Sister. So grab a cup and smile...this is as good as it gets. Normalcy, happiness in the family and home, sun in the world around us , and caffeine in a good mug.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pink Cupcake Pity Party

I am about to whine...a lot. My 3 boys have been sick this week..each of them, each with something different. My boys never seem so "boy" until they are covered in snot, puke and well, crap. The want hugs, they leave tissues around, they stay home. Nothing is the right thing to eat, they get smelly, they use up all the towels. I love them even when they are sick. Even when my plans get ROYALLY changed. I was having a friend from Germany stay here Thursday- Saturday. I was extremely excited about this....yea who wants to stay in a house that has had the plague run through it and then take a transatlantic flight home? I wouldn't. So instead of drinking wine, eating out, staying up late with friends..I am home, car-less, with the kids.  Two made it to school today, which is fabulous...until they get off the bus, are exaughsted, need homework help and reminders to stay on task with their makeup work.  So, yes, I am feeling less like person, a female person at that, this week. I decided to make PINK cupcakes..an unheard of event in our house...because pink cupcakes sometimes just make it all a little better. I also stopped reading my gory, war laden book, A Dance with Dragons, in place of a romantic teen novel..and I will probably paint my toenails later.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Happy Hearts Day and Weekly Roundup

OH boy I didn't link up last week!
SO here we go
PINNING away....

Makin Bacon Pancakes...was all Brady could say for about 15-20 minutes once I told him we were having this for dinner...The reason was that I bought TURKEY bacon instead of regular..which needed to be hidden PRONTO , if anyone was going to eat it!
This was a great idea..no recipe..I just made the batter and cooked the Bacon, then poured over the bacon once it was about 1/2 done..the kids ended up peeling the bacon off anyways since it was harder to cut..but they all gave it a thumbs up!
http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223853867052/

Next up 2 fails...YUP 2 ..so disappointing..the cotton candy in the bubbly water..what a lie...tried this for the kids and those pretty bubbles did not show up..just ended up making a very sweet drink.  And the breakfast casserole..kids HATED it! I mean would not eat it...was a thousand pound brick of breakfast food smashed together,,,big pass!
http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223856263691/

http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223856236867/

Finally I made this this headband..and I LOVE it..I made one for me and one for a giveaway on my www.facebook.com/DuncanCreative page
http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223856239638/
 
 
And for books: I abandoned two books The Secret Keeper and When She was Bad , both not even worth talking about. I also Read the last installment in Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series, Ever After, not great, not terrible. The best book I read was The Tenth Gift, 4 out of 5 stars on this one. 
 

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2873264-the-tenth-gift

Doomsday Feeling

Do you ever have the feeling that something is just meant to go wrong?  I woke up after a strange night of dreams feeling like the bottom was going to fall out.  I looked at my husband..still there, snoring nicely, chipper little Brady making Hello noises and giggling about funny words he remembers from our Disney Trip. Mitchell, at a sleepover and Ryan passed out in his room..So family..all OK there.  Whew.. Still that feeling persists.  I made a pot of coffee, settled Brady into some TV, checked computer, nothing there either.  Feeling is NAGGING me now.  I get to work, nothing out of order there...Check the bank..fabulous, a bounced check..spiraling the bank account until payday Thursday and Income Tax deposit, never good..weird feeling can go away..figured it out, nope still there.  The basement drain is clogged again, which means we need a plumber here again, must be almost spring...which is a good/bad thing mixed. HMM what can it be...I didn't get a call back from my mom yesterday, and that was weird, maybe she is upset with me. Dad came over..he assures me all is OK that she worked late and went in early this morning...sent a text anyways saying I loved her and it is good to see dad every day of break, but that it would be good to see her as well.  Text back saying I will call back later, busy. So it could be that. I mean we all want to please our mother's, no matter how old we are.  Decide to sit down with bills, and budget the up coming months..because I am already feeling anxious so I might as well tackle something unpleasant.  Called my sister to have a little chat, and she assured me that even though she also couldn't talk that it wasn't me..so WHY this feeling?? And why does it matter??  And why can't I shake it?  Catholic guilt, bounced check, messy watery basement, budgeting...could all be what it is..but I think we need to go back to my first step STRANGE DREAMS. I hate waking up not knowing what my subconscious was planning for me...but hopefully tonight I will be able to shake it loose and move on with whatever it is trying to work out for me. For now some calming tea and little book might help take my mind off it all.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Winter Wonderland and a Fantastic Book

I am not a fan of winter or snow or clumpy boots..I do have an affection for hats though, could be the fact that I make my living off of them. However, even I can admit that the snow in Rochester is AMAZING right now.  It is beautiful and heavy and wonderland-esque. I have had many picture moments outside or from the safety of my window .
Last night my best friend and her family of 6 came over for the evening and it was fantastic to just sit and talk, and drink wine of course, and hear the kids play.  Today I had planned haircuts and valentines day supplies and general running around..but I MIGHT actually get my snow gear on and play in this crazy stuff for a bit.

The weekly roundup of pins did not amount to anything this week..we went on our natural kick,  and i have been filling orders and working on my new Downton Abbey line of hats. 

I did read an amazing book though :
I LOVED LOVED LOVED this and here is my goodreads review:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13538873-mr-penumbra-s-24-hour-bookstore

I LOVED this book..I can see where it is not for everyone though. I am a book nerd..big time. Love the smell (yes it is brought up) I love the weight, the secrets, the bookstore itself. I also love my kindle, the internet and can sort of relate to the excitement the googler-s have when approaching a project. I read fantasy novels my whole life, and I understand the way the characters came together as wizard, apprentice,solider. I also just started with audio books in the last year (the warm knit hat effect) and I could so love a mystical society all around books (but I would be terrible at keeping the secret!) I sat and read this in 3.5 hrs when I should have been sleeping. BOOK NERD..and a little love with fonts and typeface. If you can not resolve an entire book having to do with these kinds of things... then obviously this is not the book for you..but thankfully I can think of so many people to suggest this too!!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Potato Leek Soup, for what ails you

My boys are sick, again. This is day 7 and day 8 of missed school since September. I am not sure what is going on. Lysol is being used liberally, hand washing in effect, covering noses when coughing. Could it be the new school environments? Not sure. Could it be lack of sleep, growing bodies, junk food? Those are the things I can take care of..feed the soul. For the next week we are cutting out processed foods( except for Mitchell's needed Gatorade , dr ordered). And maintaining an 8:00 pm electronics ban. All iPads, video games, iPods, cell phones will be turned in at 8:00pm. Bored..grab an old fashioned book. Need your baby lullaby cd, gotcha, we can dig it up. But the brain WILL rest. Food front, I went to trader joes, bought all sorts of natural goodies, and meats and veggies... So off we go! Today:
Potato Leek Soup
2 leeks, cleaned, trimmed, chopped
8 Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed, chopped
1 large onion
5 c broth ( we were out of broth so  I did bullion)

Boil all items together, then simmer and cook 25 minutes. Purée 1/2 mix to mashed potato consistency.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Weekly Roundup Feb 1

Here I am rounding up all the pins and projects and books from the last couple of weeks.  I have to confess I have fallen off the weight watcher wagon so to speak.  I was sick and lazy for a few weeks which kind of unspooled all my ambition. I also go to thinking about what about this is important to me. I think health is the most important aspect of eating a good meal...so I will continue with that but the counting, the weighing, the obsessive nature of the rest of it I have to let go. I like myself the way I am, mostly. I fit in the size clothes I can be in comfortably and have been in for years. I am not my biggest size, I was 18, and I am not my smallest 8 size either..right in the middle 12 and 12 is Ok for me for now. So enough about that for now!
Pinning time
Food:
Buffalo chicken Enchiladas : This was iffy...Randy loved it, Mitchell thought it was Ok, I was indifferent. Brady and Ryan said pass on it...a little too different from our regular enchiladas for everyones taste.
http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223856069295/
Pizza Bread: This is a staple in our house!
http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223853921824/
I have been on a bread kick the last few days :
http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223856139906/
http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223856174211/
but the best by far was this Cinnamon Walnut bread!
http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223856139850/
For the Home:
http://pinterest.com/pin/164592561353376627/
A beautiful smell in our house...however I had too much going on, laundry and cleaning wise so I fogot to monitor the amount of water in the pot first and ended up burnign this..not as nice of a smell!
 
Crochet: I have been making a GIANT granny square but I did start a new bpinterest board for inspiration called blankies http://pinterest.com/karenswimmer/blankies/
but here is the start of mine;
 
 
Books I have been on a YA kick still. Read 11 books in January all YA other than 2. Trying to ween myself off of the paranormal for just a bit to read something with a little more substance, but have you noticed books with substance have a way of making you cry, think or become angry? YA paranormal just deadens the mind and sometimes a mom just needs some down time! Here is what I am currently reading:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/764073.When_the_Emperor_Was_Divine
 

See you next week for the Roundup!



Friday, January 25, 2013

oh so sick

well my weekly roundup from the last two weeks will not have much to it. I have been doing more pinning than putting into practice. I have not been doing my cumulative exercise..after day 3 the pressure in my returned. Drs yesterday lead to the same insane sinus infection,bronchitis and an ear infection on both ears. Not a happy mom, crocheter or person in general. I will be back next week with more about pins, and recipies and projects..just logging on to say I havent given up my blog goal..just my sanity.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cumulative exercise

I have been sick, dog sick for the last week..which has messed up my fitness goals somewhat. I couldn't lean over in fear that my head would explode from the shear pressure in my sinus cavity, and since moving from standing to sitting made me have a coughing fit like an 80 year old smoker, both yoga and cardio were out of the question. The amount of forceful blowing my nose and complaining loudly for all to hear, may have burned off a few calories..but not enough to matter.

So I have done a lot of iPad surfing while under my snugly covers, slathered in chest rub, and piling tissues by my side. I also spent a lot of time reading Facebook status's and came across my friend Tina's  new exercise goal..1 sit up each day for 50 days, cumulatively ...so by day 50 you will have done 50 sit-ups. After years of Y exercise classes, video programs, self training I thought, that might be too easy for me..I have the motivation, and the ability to do more than that amount of sit-ups..but what I need is a regimen .so the 50 days part is attractive to my way of thinking...I am using this plan though to add routine and to target more than just my stomach(although that IS the part I need the most work on)
Here is the pin I am using. http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223853867055/
But I am breaking it down as follows
Day1
1 jumping jack
1 push up
1 high knee
1 burpee
1 crunch
1 squat

So by day 50 I will have 50 of each of those..and we shall see how it goes,..please check in to see if I am accomplishing these goals!!!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Weekly Round up Pinterest, Goodreads and Ravelry

My successes and failures from the pinterest boards, a weekly look at all things pinny.
Food Board:
1.Crockpot oatmeal..this should have been wonderful..it was GROSS! Gluey in texture, blah in taste..gagged down  1/2 cup and then through out the other 6 cups! How wasteful!
http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223855984833/

2.Salt and Vinegar Potatoes
This was one of the BEST pins ever found. My kids ate these up as if I were handing them candy and coke! None left over, asked if I could make more!!! I used regular old russet potatoes and cooked about 40 min total..so use that as a guide. I did use the rice vinegar as suggested but since I was feeding the kids just left it at salt and vinegar...the rosemary and thyme would have made them skeptical.

http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223855257912/


3.White Bean Chowder:
In the past this has been a favorite for the kids so I revisited it. My husband did grocery shopping when we had the big snowstorm so when I wrote white beans on the  list I should have said cannelloni beans and all would have been smooth sailing. He brought home Great Northern Beans, perfectly acceptable as a white bean, but lacking of the creamy consistency needed for the soup.  so a normal win was a bit of a let down.
http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223855204399/

Books I have read this week:
Started Unbroken, Lauren Hildenbrand for my book club but I am in some sappy crying way of the world (could be because I am sick and finally going to the drs) and I had to put it down..yes I know he survives, but I cant get myself ready for the torture that is to come. http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1400064163/ref=sib_dp_pt#reader-link

Finished , Never Let Me Go  http://www.amazon.com/Never-NEVER-Ishiguro-Author-Mar-14-2006/dp/B009CROY7M/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357915743&sr=1-2&keywords=never+let+me+go+by+kazuo+ishiguro what a weird book..had no idea it was a movie until I started describing it to my husband and he said that is a movie...I am so out of it. Very Margaret Atwood in plot..not her writing style though.  Of course, Atwood is a favorite so I could be biased. 4 out 5 stars

Reading Birthmarked...wild book so far which feeds my dystopian YA need :)   http://www.amazon.com/Birthmarked-Trilogy-Quality-Caragh-OBrien/dp/0312674724/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357915856&sr=1-1&keywords=birthmarked



Ravelry... BUSY BUSY week for me..but most are gifts and at the end of the month I will share pictures..my favorite non gift is this pattern though:
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/cuddly-cat-crochet-scoodie-with-pockets
and I adapted it from cat to fox in this etsy listing:)
https://www.etsy.com/listing/120002261/child-foxy-scoodie

that's my week, Karen

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Smoothie-r Side of Life

I hate fruit..I know WEIRD right..put a banana near me and I will flip out, plums..yuck, apricots, deceiving in their sweet little packaging..peaches..too messy, nectarines, too weird..OK I will eat green grapes occasionally, watermelon faithfully and if a Granny Smith apple happens to be cut up for me I will eat it. Otherwise,, fruit is just not a natural go to source for me.  If you are trying to watch weight then fruit should be an easy peasy go to snack. For me I have to FORCE myself to think about fruit for HOURS before I will eat it. 

Ask me how much money gets spent on fruit for my kiddos though..about $35 a week. They are fruit bats..in the summer the market is a 2 time a week happening..because those plums, nectarines, peaches and apricots that I hate..are their favorites and they will eat 3 a piece a day until I put the brakes on them..YEA for this mom instilling the OK to eat fruit when I shudder thinking about it.

Where am I going with this? The idea of smoothies has always made me a little grossed out..thick beverages in general are an ick factor.  I make them for the kids and at parties for my non alcoholic friends, but I tend to stick to water, wine and coffee...that's it no milk (another dietary need I guess), no juice, no powdery beverages.

So now I am trying to watch my weight..remember those goals? Weight Watchers has a free point on all fruit..not juices but fruit. I am also supposed to get in 3 dairy servings..and let me tell ya I had to ban myself from cheese cuz I have no self control there, and I am in trouble at the end of my day when my fruits are not eaten and my dairy is not checked off (creamer in coffee shouldn't count right?). I did a little research and of course the top bazillion sites say SMOOTHIES..gag...

I went to the frozen section at Wegmans and there were the jamba juice packets..whipped out my points calculator..2 points for 8 oz and it covers a full dairy and full fruit serving..double this and I am good to go. I know I have a million supplies ready for me to make these all naturally and healthy like ( and I do have a recipe for carrot, grapefruit ginger juice that I may still try) but I gotta say the Orange Dream Smoothie is delicious...so all you who knew this from the start, good deal! Probably will not ever go near those ones full of berries or mangoes...one step at a time.
http://www.jambajuice.com/more-jamba/jamba-goods/smoothie-kits

Friday, January 4, 2013

Pinterest Round Up

Ok working on those goals..and one both my personal and business list i had "Use Pinterest more actively" in other words..no mindless searching for hours whenever a lull int he day appears...oh wait I can STILL do that!

Here they are my USED pins this week:
Dinner Repeats Board
Made Taco Pasta on Tuesday night...you would think the fact that all the things in there are foods my children like would mean this was a winner..NOPE Fail. I think the idea of tacos and pasta together in a harmonious dish was the fail part..Brady ate the meat, Mitchell had the pasta and Ryan acted as if I were poisoning him...which then left a lot of leftovers and the my husbands portion control went out the window...

http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223855846432/

The Next night was Wednesday, Randy's day off from work, and we normally have tacos or nachos or fajitas on that night as it is his favorite food.  I made this Baked Chicken Fajitas with a side of refried beans and a bunch of fresh chopped veggies..SCORE for the WIN! They knew what they were talking about here...and there was a few leftovers so that meant lunch for Randy as well! 
http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223855963815/


Crochet Board:
Made lovey babies following a link found on pinterest..so sweet!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/119426192/lovey-heart-babies
here is the link to teh pinterest page
http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223855953000/

pin away....

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 is HERE

Here I am, back at the blog. Yes, I slacked since June, no I don't really have a good excuse other than slipped my mind for so long I forgot to get back to it! I also slacked in other ways...weight loss, exercise, but hey maybe new years should have 6 month reviews or something! I have many shop goals for myself, listed on my www.facebook.com/DuncanCreative page but my personal goals well..you have seen them before..but here goes

1.  Lose the last 15 pounds..I lost 17, gained back 7, been OK about portion control (other than the dreaded coffee creamer) so in reality I need to lose 25..but 15 is a great goal for now (6 month review remember?) so back to tracking what  I eat, using weight watchers and exercising...without the Y! I have down loaded some apps, have the fitness channel on the t and if all else fails a bunch of wii fitness games..get moving Karen!

2,  Grow out my hair. My friend and hair stylist is pregnant..I have a goal of making it through through the pregnancy and maternity leave until September..I might need a trim or two , mainly so I can peek in on her and here the pregnancy stories but I want hair like this:
http://pinterest.com/pin/240098223855947218/


3.  Utilize Pinterest..and keep track of it! Hey I have a BLOG, what a great place to round up all those tips, patterns and recipes..than here??

4. Make sure that each door in my house has a door knob on it..seriously I have pulled out the entire door knob on no less than 3 doors in the last week..no more..and hey it is good to have 1 attainable goal immediately.

Happy New Year!