Monday, October 31, 2005

Randy Powell

As the mother of a former teenage boy I am interested in books that appeal to that group, especially those books that might appeal to teenage boys who don't like to read. For the past few years I've been impressed by the writing of Randy Powell. Powell has an abililty to capture not only the problems faced by the adolescent male - relationships, choices in life, but he does it with a light, somewhat humorous touch. Many books for Young Adults focus on the darker issues faced by teenagers, and while these are important books, many young teens are often looking for something a little less heavy. Powell also captures the emotions and relationships of this age, and manages to have his main character always learns something new about himself without any didactism.

One of my favorite Powell novels is "Three Clams and an Oyster," about three friends who are part of a four-man flag football league. When the fourth member of the team proves unreliable, they spend a weekend desparately looking for a new teammate. As the weekend progresses the friends learn something new about themselves and each other.

Find out more about Powell's books at

Friday, September 09, 2005

Down the Rabbit Hole

I just finished a great book - it's a children's book, but I think that adult mystery fans will also enjoy it. It's Down the Rabbit Hole: An Echo Falls Mystery by Peter Abrahams. It's the story of Ingrid Levin-Hill, a 13 year old soccer player, aspiring actress, and Sherlock Holmes fan. When a local eccentric woman is murdered, Ingrid finds herself in the situation of having to solve the murder without implicating herself. She must do this while struggling with algebra, playing soccer and starring as Alice in the local production of Alice in Wonderland. Add to the mix a moody older brother, a crotchedy old grandpa, and ambitious parents. Oh, and a possible new boyfriend, whose father happens to be the chief of police. It's a great mystery, and although the reader has a pretty good idea of how it's going to end, Abrahams keeps us interested to the end by creating such a likable heroine in Ingrid.

Another great Young Adult mystery series is the Missing Persons series by M.E. Rabb. This is the story of two sisters who change their identities to escape their wicked stepmother. As a result, these two Jewish sisters from Brooklyn are now two Gentile sisters in Indiana. They become involved with the local PI, and help solve mysteries while avoiding being discovered. Great characters and location along with interesting stories make this a good series.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Betty and Me

In 1967 I was 10 years old. One of my Christmas presents that year was the Betty Crocker's New Boys and Girls Cook Book. This was the 2nd edition; the first was published in 1957. I spent hours poring over the recipe, bugging my mom to be allowed to make things. Fortunately, my mom was the type to encourage us to be self-reliant in the kitchen, so I could bake to my heart's content. My favorite recipe was for Hot Fudge Pudding, which became a regular dessert staple around our house.

A couple of years later, I was in Junior High, and took the required 2 years of Home-Ec. After that my time in the kitchen was limited - I had other activities, and frankly, it was the 70's and I was trying to get away from the whole domestic thing.

But my relationship with Betty Crocker was not over. One day during my senior year all the girls in my class had to report to the Home-Ec room (a place I tried to avoid), and take the test for the Betty Crocker award. This was a standardized test with a short essay question. I took the test and thought nothing of it. A few weeks later it was revealed that I had won the Betty Crocker Family Leader of Tomorrow Award for my school. Probably one of the truly major surprises of my life.

From there I went on to college and majored in Political Science, graduated and moved to Chicago. One of my roommates had a Betty Crocker cookbook, and I began poring over the recipes just as I had with my Boys and Girls Cookbook, discovering that just because I had no interest in becoming a domestic diva didn't mean I couldn't enjoy baking. For my birthday I asked for and received my own copy of Betty's cookbook. I still have that cookbook, and faithfully use it to this day. My son's favorite au gratin potatoes are from there, and I use her pie crust recipe to create pies that people rave over.

So it was with great anticipation that I picked up Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America's First Lady of Food by Susan Marks. Marks, who once worked as a tour guide at the Minnesota Historical Society, has devoted years researching Betty Crocker, and "her" influence on American society from the 1920s, when she was introduced to the public, to today, where she continues to reign strong among marketing "personages." The book is a fascinating look at how cooking has changed over the years. When Betty was first introduced, new electric stoves were replacing woodburning stoves, demanding the need to teach a new generation of women things that their mother's had done differently. Soon, Betty was handing out advice over the radio, and even on television. Marks also examines how Betty's look has changed over the years, all a result of careful market research.

I enjoyed reading Finding Betty Crocker. It brought back memories of my own Betty experiences, and even led me to dig out my old Boys and Girls cookbook, now tattered beyond repair. Maybe I'll make some Hot Fudge Pudding for dessert tonight.

Monday, August 01, 2005

While at the Garden of the Gods I saw an interesting bird. I think it was injured as it was hobbling through the parking lot. I took lots of pictures so that I could look it up in my bird book when I got home in order to identify it. Well, I've looked through the book and still can't figure out what it is. Can anyone help me?

Sunday, July 31, 2005

A Week in Colorado

We just got home from a week in Colorado where we visited our son, who lives in Pueblo, and celebrated my husband's 50th birthday. We had a great time - we took the cog train to the summit of Pike's Peak, ran through the Garden of the Gods, and visited the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, where we met Olympic Gold and Bronze medal winner wrestler Rulon Gardner. On Friday we took in a Colorado Rockies game, which was a lot of fun, even though the Rockies lost to the Phillies.

I read a couple of good books on the long car trip - I highly recommend Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, and I'm Not the New Me by Wendy McClure.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Weekend in Music City

Steve and I just got home from Nashville, where we spent a few days sightseeing and running the Country Music Marathon (Steve, not me). Except for the rainy weather we had a great time. Steve ran a pretty good marathon in 4:21:59, we had a good time with friends, and we got to meet Wynonna! Definitely a place we want to visit again.

Steve and I with Wynonna! Nashville - 4/30/05 Posted by Hello

Before the CMM - our friend Donna in green. Posted by Hello

Steve ready for the Country Music Marathon to begin. Posted by Hello

Broadway Street - Nashville. In front of Ernest Tubbs Record Store Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Steve with the Butler Bulldog Posted by Hello

The Bulldog Jog

Steve and I rant the Bulldog Jog 5K at Butler University today. Because I'd been having problems with my right leg and hip I hadn't run much in the past week. The race was a pretty easy course, and I finished in 35:06 (yeah, I know, I'm really slow), but about halfway through I pulled something in my other hip. It really hurts! Here are a few pictures of Steve and I with friends.

Steve and I at home Posted by Hello

Steve and Kobyj Posted by Hello

Monday, January 10, 2005

Here I am at the US Olympic Training Center (alas, only as a visitor). Posted by Hello

My husband at the Garden of the Gods Posted by Hello

With my baby boy on Christmas Day. Posted by Hello

With my husband in Colorado during Christmas. Posted by Hello

Happy Flu Year!

Well, the new year begins with a bang. Last week my husband came down with some sort of cold thing with a lot of coughing. On Wednesday I started coughing, and developed a fever, chills and aches. I'm much better now, but I'm still hacking away. The biggest problem for me was that I was so sick I couldn't even read! I have this stack of books from work that I need to finish, but about all I could do all weekend was veg out in front of the television.

I did manage to read a fair number of books over the last few weeks. Some of the best of these include:
Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti
Escape from Saigon by Andrea Warren
Evangeline Brown and the Cadillac Motel by Michele Ivy Davis
Under the Watson's Porch by Susan Shreve
Norman Tuttle on the Last Frontier by Tom Bodett

When I get time I'll try to post some reviews of these and other books.