Thursday, February 14, 2013

Television Time

Happy Valentines Day to all you lovers out there!

And now for the real post! :)

What are your favorite TV shows?  I have quite a few that I'm hooked on, much to my husband's chagrin.  And I try to get him to watch them all with me, to his even greater chagrin. :)  To his credit he does watch a few, and we enjoy discussing and analyzing them together.  The rest though, he leaves me to my own devices.

We spent 2011 with no TV because we decided we could no longer afford cable, even the most basic option.  So we canceled it and just relied on DVDs for our entertainment.  We found a few things we could watch online for free, but that wasn't the best option because we don't have a laptop (nor a fancy new TV that can hook up to the internet), so we'd have to get as comfortable as we could in chairs huddled around the computer desk.  Not fun for extended periods of time.  

For awhile, we enjoyed getting DVDs of old TV shows from our library, like All In The Family, Father Knows Best, and The Andy Griffith Show.  I even actually bought the first season of The Donna Reed Show, probably my favorite old TV show of all time.

Around this time last year, I got fed up with not being able to watch ANY programming on TV and bought an indoor antennae to hook up to our dual DVD/VCR player, which has a digital TV tuner in it.  We can't get a lot of channels, but what we can get has been a sanity-saver for me.  I'm sorry, but I LIKE television, and refuse to be made to feel guilty over it!  We can get three PBS channels, CBS, ABC, and FOX.  I'm sad that we can't get NBC because that's where all of the figure skating is shown, but I'm content with what we do have.  

We love PBS.  One show that we're hooked on is Downton Abbey.  It's total soap opera, but it's soap opera in gorgeous Edwardian clothes and decor.  

Other favorites on PBS are Antiques Roadshow, History Detectives, and Call The Midwife.

We really don't watch much of anything on CBS, except Wheel of Fortune.  Yeah, we're old nerds.  CBS is sort of crime-drama central, and neither of us enjoy that genre.

ABC though has a lot of our favorite shows.  We LOVE Once Upon A Time, The Middle, The Neighbors, Modern Family, and Nashville.   Well ok, I love Nashville.  Husband is usually in bed by the time it's on.  

We both enjoy Touch on Fox, as well.  I liked Fringe, too, but discovered it too late to be able to watch it in real time on TV.  By the time I was all caught up with the seasons on DVD, it had been canceled.  :(

There are quite a few cable shows that we like as well, but have to wait for them to come out on DVD to watch which makes waiting unbearable sometimes.  For me, anyway.  Can you tell yet that Husband is not quite the TV enthusiast as I am?  

Mad Men and Game of Thrones are two that come to mind that we devoured on DVD.  Literally, like watching a whole season in one weekend.  

I truly, truly, lament the loss of TCM when we canceled cable.  So many of those old movies aren't available on DVD nor can they be seen anywhere online.  As we were leading up to our cable cut off date in 2011, I was recording movies like a mad woman on our VCR.  Yeah, we still use our VCR.  No, we don't have a DVR.  Wanna make something of it?  :)  (we don't have cell phones either, but that's another blog post)

What are some of your favorite TV shows?  Or have you eschewed TV altogether?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mary Ingalls In The News

The other morning as I scanned the headlines on various internet news sites, I came across this:

"Doctors Explore Medical Mystery in Little House Books."

The Laura Ingalls Wilder (LIW) geek in me began mentally jumping up and down.  Something LIW-related is making mainstream headlines?  How cool is that!?

The real Mary Ingalls, college years

Let me back up a bit.  Yes, I am a LIW geek.  All my life I've loved the Little House books, even re-read them as an adult on a regular basis.  I read biographies and essays about her real life, and belong to various online LIW communities that are devoted to discussing, analyzing, and nit-picking over everything to do with the books and the author's real life.

The real Laura Ingalls, around age 17

*Please note that I have not mentioned anything about the television show, Little House on the Prairie.....nor will I ever.  Enough said.  Ahem.*

So naturally, when I saw a news headline regarding her sister, Mary Ingalls, I was thrilled.

Basically, a med school student who read the books growing up became curious about what caused Mary's blindness.  If you've read the books you'll automatically say, "That's easy, scarlet fever caused it!"

Well, not really.  Those of us in the LIW community have known for years that scarlet fever was not to blame....basically because Laura herself, in her unpublished memoir Pioneer Girl, said so.  In that memoir, she said the doctors at the time diagnosed it as "brain fever" and that it had a long name she could no longer recall.  "Brain fever" was a catch all term in those days (circa 1879) used to define spinal meningitis.

Why then, did Laura say it was scarlet fever in the Little House books?

The book where Mary goes blind from "scarlet fever"

William Anderson, long-time LIW biographer and researcher, thinks she used scarlet fever as a literary device, since it is an illness readers of historical fiction are familiar with and readily associate with dire seriousness.

Carrie, Mary, and Laura as children.  There is HUGE debate in the LIW community on whether this photo was taken pre-or-post blindness for Mary.

Back to the article, this med student began researching everything she could find about Mary, using the unpublished memoir and actual local newspaper stories from the time to study the symptoms available to us, and determined that the most probable cause of her blindness was meningoencephalitis.

Meningoencephalitis is a "cousin" to the doctors back then were sort of right with their call, and meningoencephalitis fits the "long word Laura could no longer remember as an adult."  It's nice to have a real bonafide diagnosis, finally, after all these years of speculation.  Well, as bonafide as we can get 134 years after the fact.

Mary went on to the Iowa College For The Blind in Vinton, Iowa.  You can read about her years there here.  It's a fascinating read.....and no, Mary never married, you lovers of the TV show. :)

If you're interested in learning more about the real family behind the books, check out these sites:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Saturday Mornings At Casa Warren

We have a sort of ritual on Saturday mornings.....Husband has to work from 6:00 am to 9:00 am on Saturdays, so when he gets home, I make a large breakfast.  Then we park ourselves on the couch and listen to shows on NPR like "Car Talk" and our favorite, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me."  Our pets pile all over us, Husband usually falls asleep, and I knit and laugh at the program.

Something compelled me to capture this, so here is a brief video of our boring, but lovely, lives on Saturdays.....

Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 - A Fresh Start

“Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” 

~~Anne of Green Gables

I always get a hankering to dig out my Anne of Green Gables books by L.M. Montgomery around this time of year because it's a great confidence booster.  Constantly learning from her (numerous) mistakes, Anne always has an optimistic outlook on life that you just can't help feeling lifted up in spirit along with her.

Which, is much needed when laying out one's goals for the new year!

I dislike the cliche "New Year's Resolutions"....I prefer to make a list of goals that I hope to accomplish.  I've always been horrible about sticking to them, whether they are called "resolutions" or "goals", but this year it is going to be different, because I am going to make it different.

I turned 40 in November, so I thought it would be neat to list 40 things I hope to accomplish in 2013.  When I actually thought about it, 40 things seemed WAY too daunting.  20 things?  More realistic, but still intimidating....10?   Yep, 10 seems doable....

  1. Eat healthier and exercise more.  I need to lose weight, but want to approach it from a healthy lifestyle standpoint rather than a weight loss standpoint.....after all, once the weight is lost, I still have to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep it off.
  2. Learn knew knitting techniques.  In addition to trying new patterns, I want to attempt using double pointed needles or circular needles, to knit "in the round" for socks, hats, etc.
  3. Continue learning to cook from scratch.  This includes meal planning and getting organized!
  4. Source more organic and local foods.  This is where the meal planning and organization comes into play so that the grocery budget isn't put on life support.  I do have the resources within reasonable driving distance to do this, I just have to plan, plan, plan!  I really want to purchase more grass-fed meat and dairy products.  Baby steps!
  5. Get more sleep.  As I get older I'm learning the importance a good night's sleep plays in our overall health.  The old adage "Get your beauty sleep" was not just a saying, it's the truth!
  6. Let go of fear and shyness.  All my life, I've been uber-shy, and easily intimidated by people I view as "better" than me.  And what for?  Because I have little self-confidence.  It's time to channel some Stuart Smalley.

  7. Play piano again.  I took lessons for years as a child but let it slip.  I'll need to basically reteach myself everything I used to know.  Thankfully, I've held onto all of my old lesson books.  We have a piano, might as well actually use the darn thing!
  8. Read more.  I love to read, but for reasons unknown to me, I've let it slip by the wayside lately.  Need to remedy that.
  9. Spend more time with my parents.  We live in the same town, why do I not see them more often?  Beats me.
  10. Stick to a manageable house cleaning schedule.  I usually put things off for days or weeks, then do massive marathon cleaning sessions on the weekends, and if I don't get to it on the weekends, lay massive guilt trips on myself.  Life is too short to be guilty and angst-ridden about a messy a tiny bit more every day and don't let it build up into massive jobs in the first place!

What are some of your goals for the new year?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Overcoming Picky Eating

Now I know with a title like "Overcoming Picky Eating" anyone who is a parent is going to think I'm about to impart some glorious knowledge about how to get their kids to eat "weird foods".

Nope, sorry.....because it's ME who is the picky eater!  Plus I don't have children (yet...).

All my life, I've been a picky eater.  My Mom tells me stories about how I'd spit out baby food, turn up my nose at most vegetables, and Dad would have to resort to tricks to get me to eat a carrot or a green bean by falling off his chair and making me laugh.  They joke that if it hadn't been for peanut butter sandwiches, McDonald's Happy Meals and Flintstones vitamins, I would have starved to death.

I flat out would. not. eat. anything that I deemed weird or yucky....and I didn't have to taste it to label a food as such.  Just the sight of anything that looked weird or yucky got that label and I refused to even take a tiny bite of it to try.  If forced to try something, temper tantrums ensued.  The old "you can sit there until you eat it" didn't work either, after I would stubbornly still be sitting at the kitchen table at midnight.  Even foods that were a staple of most kids' childhoods, like macaroni and cheese, I wouldn't eat.

Nope, wasn't having any part of it, then!

I'm sure I embarrassed my parents numerous times over the years by throwing temper tantrums at family potlucks and restaurants, and gave my Mom numerous headaches over "what to fix for dinner [that she'll eat]."  

Sometime around college I started growing out of the pickyness a tiny bit and started to voluntarily try new-to-me foods, like broccoli.  I started out with a box of Lipton Broccoli Rice mix (that had dehydrated little bits of broccoli in it - how I thought that would not be gross is beyond me now) and thought, "Well that's not so bad, is it?" and went on from there to full-blown real broccoli.  When I discovered pasta with alfredo sauce with chicken, broccoli and carrots I was in heaven.  And I eventually got around to trying - and liking - macaroni and cheese.

It's taken me many years to get where I'm at today with food.  Each year sees new additions to my food repertoire, and I laugh when we're out to eat with my parents and my Mom will look over at what I'm eating in astonishment and say, "You eat that now!?"  I don't know what has changed, but it's like every year that I get older, I feel "ready" to try something new.  Oh I still have many issues, and there are foods that I've legitimately tried and do. not. like.  Even some where I've tried to force myself to like them by trying them over and over again - sweet potatoes, I'm looking at you.  And you know what?  It's OK that I don't like them.  At least I've given them a legitimate try!

Sweet potatoes / yams......still yucky!

I thought it would be fun to keep a tally of the foods I now eat that I never would have eaten even two years ago, let alone as a child., and record which foods are on the "to try" list and which ones make the grade.

A few foods off the top of my head that I've started eating in the last couple of years:

  • beets
  • acorn and butternut squash
  • zucchini and yellow squash
  • mangos
  • kiwi
  • grapefruit
  • oranges (I loved orange juice, but hated the whole fruit - texture issues, y'know)
  • steak cooked medium or medium rare (always, always had to have it medium well or well done before - no pink showing!)
  • mushrooms (I'm still very, very new to mushrooms and at this point will only eat them as part of my favorite dish from Imperial Palace at the mall - Cashew Chicken - but baby steps!  
  • beef stew (but only if I make it)
  • peaches
  • goat milk
  • buttered toast (the butter part is new)
  • salmon's what's for dinner!

So, parents, I hope you don't have kids that are as bad as I was with food, and if you do, hopefully they will grow out of it as I have begun to.

What foods will you not touch even for a million dollars?  Any other picky eaters out there?

As for sweet potatoes and yams......sorry, Ginger!

"The Yam", Carefree, 1938