Friday, October 23, 2009

The Best Books

Lately, I've been reading like crazy. I don't typically read 3 books a year, but in the last month, I've finished two and am halfway through a third. It has been really great to get into some good books because the stuff on TV isn't any good these days. The only problem is that once I start reading, I don't want to stop. This works to my benefit when I'm on the elliptical or treadmill in the afternoons because the time just flies by. But it works against me just about every other minute of the day. Especially when I read in the car on the way home from work. Brian hates driving home while I read, so I'm often told to put my book away and save it for the next afternoon.
Anyway, these are my latest reads. I have thus far been incredibly impressed with the skill of the authors in both their writings and their ability to craft a story. I would highly recommend any of these books as an easy read to fill those 5-10 minute periods throughout your week when you wish you had something to keep you occupied.
Book #1 - THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN
Okay, so knowing how we LOVE our beautiful doggies, how could I resist a book with a golden retriever on the cover. I stumbled upon this book while browsing in the bookstore during my lunch break one day. After reading the back cover I discovered that the book was writen from the perspective of the dog.... the Dog! Can you imagine?
I thought it sounded like an incredibly interesting premise for the dog to be telling the family's story, so I picked it up off the bargin table and thank goodness I did. I started reading it that afternoon at the gym then restarted when Brian and I got in the car, reading aloud to him.
We thought that it was a wonderful story and loved getting the dog's perspective on things. But I must warn you, it can be one of those bittersweet sad books!!! But sad in a great uplifting sort of way.
"You manifest that which is before you." So go ahead and read this one!
Our beautiful doggies who inspired me to buy the book.
Spankie (above) and Rocky (below) our first "children" who bring us much joy in our everyday lives.
Book #2 LUCKY
Lucky also happens to be the name of our cat, but that had nothing at all to do with me buying this book. I actually went to the bookstore looking for this book. A couple of years ago I read Alice Sebold's other book, "The Lovely Bones" and was enthralled. Both of Sebold's books deal with the rapes of young women, Sebold's book being the auto-biography of her own rape. Though the subject matter is horrifying, I found the book strangly captivating. Sebold tells her story in a way that only she could tell it. She writes very well and seems to be able to put into words the gamut of emotions that families go through while enduring adversity and tragedy.
Oddly enough, Sebold is able to present her story in such a way that the reader does not develop pity for her character, but pride caused by the strength she shows and her determination to overcome the shadows that follow her. I'll say no more so that I don't ruin the book, except that this one is high on my list of favorites.
And finally Book #3 ANGELS AND DEMONS
Yes this is the first Dan Brown novel that I have read, and I am loving it. I very much enjoy movies like "The Davinci Code" and "National Treasure" that have a puzzle motif. But for some reason I had previously shyed away from the Dan Brown novels fearing that all the hype would leave me feeling disappointed. Well friends, believe what you hear because Dan Brown can turn a tale.
I'm about half way through the book and am completely captivated. I can't wait to get on the elliptical machine this afternoon and get to reading. I am a bit of a history buff, so the fact the Brown combines the factual history (locations of artwork, actual history, etc) with the mythologies (masonic and illuminati legend) makes this book that much more interesting. I'm really enjoying trying to solve the puzzles before the characters (though I haven't beaten them yet) and can't wait to see how the whole thing turns out.
Well that's enough for today. I've got a busy weekend ahead full of cleaning, football, and hunting. More on that next week. For now, I'm off to read and get a start on my weekend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Battle of the Buldge

Over the last year, my thyroid has been completely messed up. The docs and I are still working to get things regulated, but the process is slow. This has led to massive weight gain and feeling so bad that working out was the last thing I wanted to do. To top it all off, I've been kinda lazy (or tired) the last few months and haven't gone to the necessary effort to cook a healthy meal every night of the week. Infact, we've probably been eating a little too much pizza (our favorite "we're lazy and want to get something quick" food). Well this week, I've decided I've had enough. We are going to get healthy and we are going to do it NOW!!! My goal is to take it slow. This week, my goal is to make it to the gym 4 times for at least half an hour. I know... I should stay longer, but my goal for the first couple of weeks is to build good habbits. So far, I've managed to get there twice and I plan on going again this afternoon and tomorrow during lunch. I've also cooked supper every night this week. We've had chilli made with extra lean ground beef, extra lean burgers with roasted potatoes, and grilled chicken with boiled potatoes and corn. This weekend, I'm going to pull out some of my low fat recipies and find something yummy to do in the crock pot on Saturday while we watch football and play around the house. Wish us luck as we battle our buldge! I'll periodically post low fat/low cal recipies to share. I'll start with an absolute staple in our house... Our Favorite Faux Fries Golden or Red Potatoes - these are the potatoes with the thin skins that are much smaller than your typical baking potato. I typically use 2 medium size potatoes per person for a meal. Pam or any Non-stick cooking spray Garlic Powder Salt Pepper Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Slice potatoes into your favorite French Fry shape (homefries are round, steakfries are thick and wide, or thin and long for fast food style fries) and place on baking sheet. Spray the tops of potatoes with cooking spray and then lightly apply garlic powder, salt, and pepper or any other combination of seasonings you enjoy (some red pepper and cajun seasoning would be good if you like them spicy). Bake for 20-35 minutes until the tops of the fries are a golden brown and the insides are done (baking time depends on how thick you slice the fries). (HINT! I don't always wait on the oven to heat all the way... I usually turn it on before I start preping my potatoes and put the pan in the oven when I've got them all on the pan and seasoned. The cooking time will be pretty much the same either way.)