Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Book List

Most everyone who knows me is aware of my serious obsession with reading. Too often I neglect my husband, children, home, sleep, etc. I'd like to say I only read quality literature that wins awards and is listed on the classic book lists, but in addition to a small sampling of those I mostly read fun, entertaining fiction. I don't want to write a bunch of book reviews, more like just list some of my favorites and what I've been into lately. I love series because I can get to know the characters and see some growth and development. Mysteries have always been my favorite and I love the site Stop, You're Killing Me for a huge list of books and series, listed both by author and main character. I like to read my series in order always so this site has helped a lot.

British Mysteries (my favorite, there's just something about those Brits!)
Martha Grimes - Richard Jury series - these are the best and there are a lot of them. Martha Grimes writing style is awesome! I even went to a bookstore in Tempe once where she was appearing and talking. I was so proud of myself for asking a question. I love these because the characters are interesting and because they talk a lot about things I wish I was more conversant in: poetry, art, classic literature, etc.
Agatha Christie - esp. Hercule Poirot - classics! I started reading these in Jr. High and they have shaped my reading habits. You should read 2 or 3... or 6.
Rhys Bowen - Evan Evans series - not really British but poor Wales gets lumped in with Britian a lot. These books are fun and light - PG rated.
M.M. Kaye - Death in... series - I think these are some of the most suspenseful and scary books I've read without including a bunch of gore or serious horror stuff. They are not truly a series because they are always about different characters and places, but sort of formulaic with the same type of young British heroine, traveling for the first time, etc. etc. But they somehow stay fresh and exciting to me.
Elizabeth Peters - Crocodile on the Sandbank & the rest of the series. These are written in journalistic style, or memoirs or something. Amelia Peabody is so stinking funny! I guess they are mysteries, but more like comedies to me. I love the romance of Egypt during the times of British influence. Just like Agatha Christie.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Sherlock Holmes - have read them all! Own them all! Have been to 221B Baker Street in London - probably my favorite attraction there.

Culinary Mysteries
Joanne Fluke - Hannah Swensen series - the most ridiculously G rated books I have ever read! And how many bodies can one cookie shop owner find? But kind of fun and I love that it's almost all dessert recipes! They are pretty good.
Katherine Hall Page - Faith Fairchild - the recipes are really highbrow and advanced so I haven't tried any yet. I like the New England setting and the main character - a SAHM.
There are tons of series out there in this genre, with most including recipes. To me, these are all just kind of fun, not much meat in the actual writing. Let me know if you have found a good series.

Juvenile Books
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter - fun for one and all! Can't wait for #7 this summer.
Gordon Korman - this Canadian author usually writes about young boys, say aged 11-14ish. I discovered these in Jr. High and love them to this day. I can't wait until my boys are old enough. I still list my favorite book of all time as "I Want to Go Home." I laugh out loud through the whole thing. The main character has such a dry sense of humor, or just personality I guess. My copy is falling apart and I think has mold growing on it from getting wet. But I still read it every couple years.
Anything off the Newberry Award List. I am reading my way through it and am never disappointed.

The modern day gals/fashionistas/romance without being called a romance novel
Sophie Kinsella - Shopaholic series - I love this main character, she is so crazy! And since I love shopping, I can relate to her alternate reality.
I read lots of other books in this category, but I don't know which I'd recommend. What I do is go to Barnes & Noble or Borders and find the displays for this genre. Then I read all the backs, write down the ones that sound interesting, then put those on hold at the library. They're fun and a good break from my mysteries.

Clive Cussler - Dirk Pitt series - seriously complex and outragesous plots, but that's the fun of it. And Dirk sounds super dreamy. Lots of good action too.
Dorothy Gilman - Mrs. Pollifax - sort of mystery/adventure. She's a grandmother and a CIA agent. Light and fun, I love to learn about all the places she travels.
Jan Karon - Mitford Series - Father Tim is very spiritual and inspiring to me. The characters are original and lovable, unless they're supposed to be unlovable. I wonder if there are still towns like this?

Monday, April 23, 2007

I Did It!

Hooray for me! I completed my first 5K event. I was worried about even doing the whole thing since I hurt my ankle, but I was okay and I even ran a bit. It was lots of fun because there were tons of people walking - even little kids and parents with strollers. Of course some of them were way faster than me, especially the kids! My time was 41:30. I hesitate to list it because I'm so slow, but hope this will motivate me to run more and be able to boast about my improvement. I would like to run another 5K soon and maybe actually run it. And maybe I can move up to a 10K once I'm done having kids and I've run out of excuses. A special thanks to my friend Jeanna who ran with me. Well, not with me since she actually ran the whole thing. But she did come back and find me and ran the last .1 mile with me. And a thanks to those who inspired me: Lindsay, who has been doing triathlons lately, and Shannon, who runs 10Ks like they're going out of style. You guys rock! I want to be like you. Anyone else who runs, please leave a comment so I can be more inspired.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Tara Thinks...
everyone should have a few minutes to blog every day. Right now I have 6 minutes until my timer goes off for the first of 3 pans of the various bars I have to make for my awesome sister's open house tomorrow. And in 1 hour I'm supposed to be at the church to help set up for our primary activity tonight. Aaron is "working from home" today and I had him all scheduled for babysitting (being home during nap time). But then he got called in to work suddenly. I was freaking out, don't they know he was busy! You'd think they pay his salary or something. So I had to cancel on the set-up, sorry Marshelle, and instead will spend my time making bars and finishing the 10 year later wedding video for my sister, which I've spent at least 12 hours on. That way I can be at the church all night for primary, before I do my 5K tomorrow morning, before I go to the temple for my sister's sealing, before I attend and help at the open house, before I take care of church stuff for Sunday, where I have to conduct. And hey, there goes the timer. Crap, they look weird! I am the worst lemon bar maker in the world (even though I am awesome at everything else).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Making Friends

Tara Thinks...

Some people are blessed with the talent to make friends easily. I am blessed with falling into a great set of friends at a very young age, like Jr. High. Some people, like me, need to hold on to the friends we have because it's hard and scary to make new ones. I was pretty much attached at the hip to my girlfriends through high school and when I went to BYU it wasn't too bad because I roomed with one of them, and 2 more were down at Dixie and visited often. And even now I talk to most of them frequently. Then through, ahhh.... okay, seven years of college - you might think I would make some more friends. But I found it was much easier to get a boyfriend and hang with his friends than to click with a new girlfriend. Not to mention I continued to live with one or the other of my HS friends most of the time. I had 3 or 4 roommates that I really enjoyed and that I would have considered friends, whom I still exchange Christmas cards with at least. I became close to 3 fellow chem majors, ditto on the Christmas cards. And I had one random roommate that became one of my "girls," even letting me live with her family (husband, 2 kids) my last semester at BYU. She even came to my wedding. Maybe we don't talk as much as we'd like anymore, but I'm still staying with her when I take my fam to UT later this month.

So, it's a good thing I've stayed put in Mesa, where at least some of my girlfriends still live. And thank goodness for family! I never dreamed I'd be this close to my sister, or have such great sis-in-laws. But when Aaron's job moved us to St. Petersburg, FL - I was pretty worried. Luckily I had Alden by then and he takes up a ton of time naturally. And long-distance calls are the same as local nowadays. So I would have been okay. But instead of just okay, I managed to find my own twin, practically - waiting there in our little branch in FL. I can't imagine what life would have been like there without Shannon. And even though we've been back in Mesa for like 7 months now, I still talk to Shannon more than anyone else, even Aaron if you only count phone time. If the Johnsons would just move here, life would be complete!

But here I am, at 30, trying to make new friends. And I swear, it's worse than Jr. High - should I invite this person for a playdate? Is it too soon to call them? Do you think they had a good time? Will we be able to find anyone who might go out with Aaron & I? I do have a few pretty good friends, but I worry that they get sick of me. I miss Shannon who would just know we were hanging out every day.

That's why I like this blogging thing. I know some people who have blogs. And they have links to some of their friends who have blogs. And they have friends too - you know how it goes. And sometimes when my boys are sleeping, when I am supposed to be doing laundry or dishes or something, I check out blogs. And some of these people are really cool! Almost all of them have little kids and deal with the same things I do. It's like having friends without one party knowing it. Some blogs I have been reading more regularly. Yesterday I came across this girl (or is it a lady? or a woman?) - a Mom, who sounded exactly like me. I read through her recent posts and I think she is great. I want to be her friend. I wish we could hang out. Too bad she lives somewhere far away. Plus she seems to have tons of blogging friends, gets like 5 or 6 comments on every post, and probably has tons of friends in real life too. Too good for the likes of me. So the question is - should I contact this random girl or not?

Monday, April 16, 2007

My Best 5K Intentions

Tara thinks...
that if someone finally commits to run a 5K, their ankles should cooperate.

Just a few belated rantings. I've always wanted to be a runner. They all seem so fit and wholesome and I have fond memories of when I used to run cross country - you know, in 8th grade. But I was good! And if only I can get over the laziness and self-indulgence I can totally be good again. I figured a 5K was a good place to start and have been wanting to try one for a couple years. But between being pregnant and nursing the opportunity hasn't come up until now. I've been saying since I got pregnant with Emmett that I would run one the spring after he was born. So it's the spring and I searched out an event that would work with my suddenly crazy schedule and actually signed up and paid. I was running at the YMCA a lot (for me) and actually doing a 5K several times. Now when I say "doing," I mean a combo of walking and running 3.1 miles. It was taking me just over 40 min. and I was starting to increase my run to walk ratio. All very good for me. I didn't realistically think I could run 3.1 miles, but I was getting there. And then disaster struck! An injury. I might be the only person around who can sprain their ankle just standing there. So it's been 2 weeks and I've been slowly healing and not going to the gym. But I went today! I was definitely held back by the ankle, not by the fact I haven't worked out for 2 weeks. I did some walking and running, but could only do one and a quarter miles. Unfortunately that's a far cry from 3.1 miles, but I'm hoping things will improve this week and hey, I'll walk it if I have to. A big thanks to my friend Jeanna for signing up with me, although I hope she doesn't feel like she has to stay back with me.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My Magazines

Tara thinks...

everyone should have at least 3 or 4 magazine subscriptions. I love magazines! If funds were not an issue I would suscribe to everything from Martha Stewart, to Parents, to Lucky, to Everyday Food, to People/US Weekly/OK. Oh wait... I do subscribe to those - well, most of them. I don't know how I find the time to read, but let's face it - I neglect my home and family and read constantly anyway. But magazines are great because I can read them 5 min. at a time, which I can't do with a book - ruins the continuity. And magazines contain advertisements and articles relating to one of my favorite pastimes - Shopping! I thought I'd list the stuff I'm subscribing to now and add links to their sites. It seems like most mags are starting blogs of their own too, which is kind of fun.

I'll start with Parents/Parenting since this seems the least frivolous. I somehow managed to get subscriptions to both, sort of on accident. I like Parents a little better although I swear they're run by the same company. I can skim these mags, cut out fun mom stuff, articles & whatnot that I may or may not remember to look at later. I like the cute embarrassing stories and the suggestions from other parents and I once found a recall for a toy we had. Parents blog is www.goodyblog.com. Parenting blog is http://theparentingpost.parenting.com/.

Martha Stewart. Self explanatory. I love this magazine but they take up quite a lot of my time between reading them (quite hefty) and spending time dreaming about all the stuff I'd like to do. I usually subscibe every other year or so. It's a bit pricey too, like $26ish. But I find I like everything Martha Stewart, except the lady herself. That's why the magazine is so great. But you can't deny she has talent and style. And I love the baby issues! Aaaaahhh, the cutest stuff. You can never go wrong with a MSL recipe either, except sometimes they get a bit complicated and expensive. I just pick the simpler ones.

I remember when Lucky Magazine first started, I was an original subscriber. This mag is dedicated to shopping, just like me! Like a fashion magazine without the relationship/dating/sex stuff. But tons of great clothes, make-up, hairstyles, and home stuff! Most is out of my price range, but I still think they do better about putting in normal person stuff than other fashion magazines. They have a blog too, although not as prolific or interesting as the parenting ones.

Domino is by the same people as Lucky and is dedicated to the home. Both are only $12 a year. It's a little more modern style than I might choose, but fun and interesting. I also like Martha Stewart's home magazine, Blueprint, but it was too high end for me. Almost every item ever featured was like 10-20 times more than I would ever pay. Domino is a bit more my speed - I even sent gift subscriptions to some friends last Christmas. Oh, they also have stuff on entertaining, like recipes, table settings, etc. Which I totally wish I used all the time. I'm a Martha Stewart entertainer wannabee. Unfortunately, my social circle doesn't appreciate this.

Okay, so I don't subscribe to People, US Weekly, or OK. But I wish I did - I love to look at them in the grocery store check out line. And I treat myself a few times a year. I love the celebrity gossip, that's what I miss most about our cancelled newspaper, of which I only ever read the Living Section.

Unfortunately, writing this post has taken hours and hours as I search for the websites and blogs and get caught up in them. Wishing you the same entertaining luck!

Prepping the House

Tara thinks...

I need to get my house in shape for my DSIL (dear sis-in-law) Candice's baby shower. I am so excited to host this event in my own home, despite its diminuitive size. I think I can handle 40ish people at once, and these come-and-go showers aren't usually more than that. Fingers crossed! Even though the shower isn't for over 2 months, I have been thinking of themes, invitations, food, and decorations. Candice's baby has not been helping, stubbornly keeping its legs together through 2 ultrasounds. Aaron calls the baby "Cousin It." But hooray - just this morning she went for a third look and it appears Cousin It is a Girl! So we're moving on to pink themes.

Part of hosting a big event like this is getting my house in shape - not only cleaning-wise, but decorating-wise too. As in paint, pictures, curtains, etc. - all the things I've sort of been working on since we moved back from Florida 7 months ago. I have a master plan, just need to be realistic as to what I can get done in the next 2 months. My favorite decorating style is Craftsman/Bungalow, with a little Prairie/Frank Lloyd Wright/Mission styles thrown in too. Too bad my house is totally not Bungalow style. We'll ge there, even if it takes a complete remodel of the outside. Since the big remodel I did here right before we moved to Floriday, we changed the floorplan quite a bit and created a big family room, open to the kitchen and dining room. This matches Craftsman style and I've been working on the interior. It takes a lot of money because I like lots of wood molding, we'll get there on that too. Anyways... I want to do some stenciling all around the living room, right next to the ceiling. I've even gotten Aaron to give a bit of an opinion about this. He's all for it and spent at least 8 minutes with me looking at a few patterns online. Here are the finalists:
Casablanca, Celeste, and Poppy Frieze
Ivy Pergola and Mission Spirit

Leave a comment or vote! I would love to hear ideas for baby showers too.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tara Thinks ...

I think I should start my own blog about the things I care about, am interested in, or need to get off my chest. My family blog, The Carpenter Clan, is mostly about my two sons and you should check it out! http://carpenterclanaz.blogspot.com/ This blog will certainly make reference to my husband and kids, but mostly talk about the stuff I like: books, shopping, cooking, home projects, etc. Some posts will be frivolous, like the merits of various tinted lipbalms, some will be a bit weightier, like my opinions on books I read, and I might occasionally get into something really substantial, like my religion or political issues. Although if you know me you know I don't get into politics much. Hope you enjoy and check back often. Oh, and leave lots of comments.