Good Enough to Eat, Indeed!

12 09 2010
As you may have read a few weeks ago, I pre-ordered a book in hopes of winning a lunch date with one of my favorite authors Jen Lancaster and her BFF Stacey Ballis.  I did not win a lunchtastic day with Stennifer, but I did get a consolation prize of having ordered a really good book. 

Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis is an emotional feast of great characters and wonderful sounding food.  The main character is Melanie, a woman who has recently lost half of her body weight only to have her husband leave her for a big woman right after she opens her own carry-out healthy cafe.  Most of the story revolves around the ‘bad’ foods she wants vs the healthy way she’s trying to be.  There’s a love interest, wonderful friends, and lots of growing up for the 40-year-old ‘fat girl’.  It’s pretty great.

The whole back of the book (like the last fourth of it) are these great sounding recipes.  They’re based on the recipes in the book like the birthday banana cake and then following them are a healthy recipe version.  I haven’t tried the recipes yet, but they sound amazing.  I especially want to try the fried chicken; the secret in the book is poaching it in buttermilk THEN frying it so it’s cooked through and crispy instead of burned outside with a raw inside.  The banana cake also sounds awesome, so I’ll be trying these recipes out as soon as I can gather the ingredients and convince Penguin that he should try something other than Hamburger Helper and spaghetti. 

Interspersed with the life and the wonderful recipes is the whole fat girl in a skinny body thing.  Mel never sees who she is now.  She’s constantly fighting (and occasionally losing) the urges to binge on unhealthy foods and skip her workouts.  She battles her insecurities over her new body in ways she never had to worry about her old body.  She (and I assume, by extension,  Ms. Stacey Ballis) liken the urge to compulsively eat to an addiction, which it is.  I especially like how Mel thinks that you couldn’t expect an alcoholic to take one drink 3-5 times a day but not completely fall off the wagon,  or a drug addict that has to take just a few pills three or more times per day but never more.  That’s how it is with food though.  You have to eat 3+ times a day but not to overindulge.  It’s hard both in the book and real life. 

I am a fat girl.  I admit it.  I eat things I shouldn’t.  I almost never exercise.  I’m not healthy, but I’m not completely unhealthy.  I’m still relatively young (though swiftly approaching 30) and time hasn’t relegated me to diabetes and heart disease, yet.  I feel the press to eat better and exercise more.  I also feel a little helpless, because most of my problem has nothing to do with what I eat or what exercise I do, but instead are the result of a medical condition.  It is very frustrating, since I can diet and exercise and actually gain weight.  Most of the time I give up and decide to eat whatever I want.  I hate the looks I get when I eat real food.  I spend 36 hours a week with a handful of tiny women in the health care setting.  They eat their Lean Cuisine or salads and low cal yogurt and talk about jogging.  I eat home-made lasagna, mac n cheese, PB&J, Hamburger Helper, and cheesecake.  I don’t care anymore.  Some day I’ll get my medical stuff all figured out and then I’ll care again.  Until then, I’m being happy being me and savoring my home-made cheesecake with relish.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some pics of things I cook.  Visual feast! Bon apetit!

Apple Pie

Spinach & Bacon Quiche

Pumpkin Bread & Muffins

Apple Cake Lasagna



Stennifer: The Lunchtastic Tour!

1 09 2010

If you all remember, I love Jen Lancaster and have blogged about her at least once or twice.  Well she and her BFF Stacey Ballis are hosting a contest to win a lunch date with Stacey and Jen (a.k.a. Stennifer).  I’m so stoked about this it’s not even funny.  To enter, you must pre-order Stacey’s new book by September 6th.  It looks awesome, I mean it’s about a chubby girl and food, so I pre-ordered for my Kindle.  Stacey is trumping Jen on this one since Jen’s new book hasn’t dropped below $10 on Kindle yet.  What can I say? I’m cheap.  

I learned about the contest on Jen’s blog Jennsylvania.  She directed me over to Stacey’s blog The Polymath Chronicles.  There I learned that in order to win a great lunch date with two awesome ladies, wine, food, and signed books all I had to do was preorder Stacey’s new book and email her my confirmation.  Easy peasy!  After that I did one of the optional entries of emailing 20 people.  Yay for junk mail from people you know, right?  I can get more entries if people “like” the post I put on my Facebook wall.  (If you’re my friend on Facebook, so like it!)

Now if anyone wants to buy the book (or three) but have no interest in winning lunch with Stennifer, please email me your Amazon confirmation and I will claim your purchase for you.  It’s totally in line with the rules. 

Now, for more details hit up the post about it on The Polymath Chronicles.

Chick lit update

22 01 2010

Early in 2009 I wrote about Jen Lancaster and my love of her snarkiness and wit.  I had read her first three books and couldn’t put them down.  Her fourth book was Pretty In Plaid and I was remiss in never getting around to reviewing it.  Pretty was a deviation from her previous books’ style.  Always before she started at point A and ended at point B (or maybe Z because she isn’t exactly concise).  Her books weren’t always strictly chronological, but they made sense from situation to situation.  In Pretty in Plaid she takes more of a short story approach based upon a memorable piece of clothing.  Now they weren’t always loved pieces of clothing, but they did shape her life and how she chooses clothing now.  From a denim jacket to a Liz Claiborn bag to her first suit, Jen shows us how she weathered her youth, teens, and 20s. 

Jen has a new book coming out soon.  It is supposed to be called My Fair Lazy.  She also has a blog where she posts funny little stories, pics of her pets, and occasional book plugs.  It’s usually hilarious.

If you’re in to chick lit or if you just need a good laugh pick up a Jen Lancaster and prepare to laugh your butt off.

A Year In Review

6 01 2010

So, I have been a terrible blogger this year. I started the blog with the best intentions and then life got in the way. I spent January though July taking classes in addition to my full-time job. Then I focused on work and a new relationship letting everything else take a back seat to love and money. I’ve read plenty of books. I’ve thought about blogging most of them. 2009 had me reading 30+ books and re-reading at least 4.

Quick list of 2009 reads:

Enemies and Allies by Kevin J. Anderson–Novel about Superman and Batman set during the 1950s. The two begrudgingly team up to stop the world from total destruction. 4 stars

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen–Classic chick lit. 5 stars

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith–The classic regency romance with added zombie mayhem. 4.5 stars

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters–More classic literary romance with some slimy, tentacled or clawed disaster. 4 stars

Persuasion by Jane Austen–Classic tale of a girl letting herself get talked out of love based on a mistaken emphasis on wealth and status. To my knowledge there are no plans to add vampires or ghosts. 5 stars

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen–More classic chick lit. Poor girl lives with rich relatives and finds herself between the two worlds trying to find love and happiness. Also no plans to add any strange apparitions as far as I know. 5 stars

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery–French-American girl goes off to Japan and become separated from her family through fire and choice. Passes herself off as a Japanese lady’s maid in a respectable teahouse. 3 stars

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte–More classic lit about two selfish people and their love for themselves and each other and their inability to function in their worlds apart. 2 stars

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown–Intrigue with a art history geek trying to solve the mystery, murder, and win the pretty girl. 3.5 stars

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown–Same hero as The DaVinci Code with a new mystery, murder, and pretty girl. 3.5 stars

White Oleander by Janet Fitch–Dysfunctional family at its finest. Plus a look into the foster care system through the eyes of a teen. 3 stars

Mary Called Magdalene by Margaret George–Novel of the possible and probably life of Mary Magdalene. Rich with history and a little possible blasphemy. 3.5 stars

Death of a Darklord by Laurel K. Hamilton–Weird novel filled with magic, zombies, and a witch hunter. 4 stars

Why Mermaids Sing by C.S. Harris–Murder mystery set in England. Part of a series. 3.5 stars

Chocolat by Joanne Harris–French lady opens a chocolate shop in a rural village and turns the town upside down. I believe I actually reviewed this one. 4 stars

The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster by Bobby Henderson–Hilarious blasphemy. No way to really explain this. You just have to read it. 3 stars

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini–By the author of The Kite Runner. About 3 separate females and how their lives intersect in Afghanistan. 5 stars

A Widow for One Year by John Irving–Reviewed last January. About a family and how their actions impacted them and those around them. 4 stars

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd–Reviewed already. About a girl looking for her roots and finding them in unexpected ways. 4 stars

Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster–Snarktacular chick lit. 4.5 stars
Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster–More Snarktacular chick lit. 4.5 stars
Pretty In Plaid by Jen Lancaster –Less snarktacular but totally hilarious chick lit. 4.5 stars

The Host by Stephenie Meyer–Alien being inhabiting human bodies and a band of refugees trying to survive without detection. 3 stars

Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer (re-read)–Sparkly vampired and teen love. If you haven’t already heard about Twilight; you’re probably hiding under a rock. 4.5 stars

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison–Can’t even really describe it. 3.5 stars

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton–Mystery about a lost child with amnesia trying to find the truth and her granddaughter who finally figures it out. 4 stars

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson–Non-traditional Patterson safe for the whole family to read. Daniel is an alien hunter with a few advantages trying to get revenge for the death of his family by killing the most dangerous aliens in the U.S. 3.5 stars

Swimsuit by James Patterson–Killer on the loose ravaging models. Sort of standard for Patterson. 2.5 stars

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath–Whiny, depressed, suburban girl. 0 stars

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks–Love story spanning a few decades about reconnecting with first love. 4 stars

The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner–Short stories about everyday women finding their Prince Charming. 2 stars

I also failed two books (Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert and Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift). I may try them again later but I have plenty to keep me busy right now.

All in all it really wasn’t a bad year for reading. Despite a lot of happenings I truly read 2-3 books each month with a full time job and classes.

Here’s hoping 2010 is even better!

Chick Lit and Me

24 05 2009

I am not usually one for chick lit, but I came across a book called Bitter Is the New Black by Jennifer Lancaster a year or so ago and was so taken with the sarcasm and snarkiness that I became a fan (even on Facebook!). How can you not like a book with a front cover that reads, “Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered, Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office”? This non-fiction gem details the life of an ex-sorority girl with more money in her closet than in her savings and what happens when her world comes tumbling down on her. Secretly all poor people want the rich(er) people to fall on their ass, and Jen does and tells us all about it in an hilarious way.

In the last week I have read the sequels, Bright Lights, Big Ass and Such a Pretty Fat. There is a fourth book freshly out that I have yet to read, but believe me that as soon as our library calls me and tells me it’s waiting for me I’ll be in my car to get it clothed or not.

The best part of Bright Lights, Big Ass was the several pages detailing a trip to the gynecologist after a 4-year-hiatus (my new favorite word I guess since I’ve used it twice in as many days). When Jen started talking about stapling the paper gown back together over her chubbiness I laughed so hard I choked on a pretzel (dipped in chocolate pudding) and almost woke my roommate. There were many other quite humorous parts, but that one took the cake for me. The central part of the story however was her working as a temp while waiting for money from Bitter is the New Black. How can you not laugh at a former big shot collating copies and fetching coffee for $10 an hour?

In Such Pretty Fat, Jen delved more into her weight issues in a funny and snarktastic way. Much as she used to drop off a bad rent check then force herself to waitress her tables for maximum tips to cover it, she signs her publishing contract as a deadline to make herself work to lose her weight. It’s an up and down battle with her binging on pie and working out to a pint sized drill-sargent at the gym.

Through all of the books she throws in funny stories about her dogs, husband, friends, and even herself to show readers that she (and those associated with her) are real people in the real world.

So, chick lit and I can be friends; just don’t expect me to start reading every glossy, pink-jacketed, shoe or flower bedecked book out there. It’s not going to happen. Jen Lancaster’s next book, Pretty in Plaid has pink and green argyle socks on the cover–so not the same.

Back From Hiatus

23 05 2009

So I realize that it has been a great many months since posting. In that time however I was reading many unexciting things about psychology and the English language as it pertains to ‘college writing’. I went back to college after a great many years in hopes of getting in to nursing school. I’m happy to say I’ve come out of this first semester with a 4.0 GPA (for the first time in my entire life) and a whole lot of nothing done other than school work.

In the few weeks since finals however, I have taken it upon myself to try to tackle the ‘1001 Books to Read Before you Die‘. True, I’ve already read a few of these books. I can already tell there are a few that I will not read as well. I have no desire to read “Mein Kampf” or some of the books by the Russian guys that are so dry as to make my brain shrivel into a zombified nothing. I will, however, at least read a synopses of each book and give them all a shot. I’m also adding to the list with books I’d like to read, am reading, or have read; and adding in elements of the list from a book I found at Borders with about 500 or so titles in it.

I’ve managed to make a small chip into the list the past week or so. It would have been a bigger chip if I had not been sidetracked by some ‘chick lit‘ and my re-read of the Twilight Saga. I’ll be posting a few blogs soon to document my progress and inform of a few good reads for any readers that I have.