Thursday, February 28, 2013

February's Children

This ends my second month of the 2013 Goodreads Reading Challenge and I am happy to report that I am 9% ahead of my goal! My little widget tells me so.

Just a quick observation here that makes me curious about my little widget's calculation.  I will freely admit that I am not a wiz at higher math so you mathletes out there should have fun with this at my expense.  I have read 5 of the 20 books that I challenged myself to read, that means I have read 25% of my goal. My little widget and I agree on this one.  My little widget tells me that I am 2 books ahead of schedule, which to me would be 10% ( 2/20). My little widget likes to say that answer is 9%.  I am assuming that there is some very nifty Goodreads algorithm that incorporates number of days of the year that have passed and remaining days to read, but I don't have the time or the inclination to figure it out.  I don't even know why I am talking about this after all this is about Goodreads not Goodmaths!

So, the two books I read in February had some similarities (both about children, both had some historical qualities, both by authors with names beginning with R, both award winners). But my experience with each book was very different from the other. I first chose to dig into the award winning Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie.

This book won the Man Booker Prize in 1981. And then it won the Best of the Booker in 2008, crowning it as the greatest of all the Booker prize winners in the 40 years of Booker history. This was to be a good book! The synopsis sounded interesting: an Indian child was born at the stroke of midnight on the very night that India gained its independence. This child's life and India's independence would mirror one another through events, national and personal. A clever weaving of fiction and fact, and I would learn some world history along the way.

I have read other Booker winners and nominees (Room, 2010; The Sea, 2005; Cloud Atlas, 2004; Life of Pi, 2002) so I know I am capable of this level of reading. But I could not finish Mr. Rushdie's book. Gasp! I stopped reading it and walked away, or rather turned off my Nook.

Like many wonderful books, the story has loads of engrossing characters with interesting back stories. The historical accounts of actual events during India's struggle for independence through the eyes of Saleem and his family was a neat trick. Undeniably, Rushdie has a gift for description. So, the book has lots of great qualities. But I could not follow the narrator's meandering style which was dotted with large jumps in time forward and back. I totally claim this as a personal problem; clearly it's not the book fault (remember it's the best of 40 years of Bookers).

So I did what I used to never be able to do. I stopped reading and said goodbye to Midnight's Children. Life is too short to read books you don't enjoy. Is that already a bumper sticker?

In defeat, I retreated to where everyone who feels beaten by a highbrow book goes: teen fiction. And the straight to teen fiction bestsellers to boot. On recommendation from two of my friends (one a middle school media specialist and the other a media specialist in training), I selected Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

This book was just what I needed to clear the heavy descriptions and complicated world politics left in my head by Midnight's Children. The Peculiar Children have paranormal abilities, they time travel, they  fight monsters, they cheat death, all under the cheerful backdrop of WWII. No heavy world politics here. Kidding aside, this book has an added feature for those like me who have an interest in photography. The book is littered with unusual and at times creepy photos that the author gathered from various antique photography collections. He weaved the photos into the story to illustrate the plot. The only criticism I might have about this is that at times his use of a particular photo seemed to force a part of the story. It is as if the author was dead set on using a certain photo and wrote a part of the story to fit the photo. It felt forced at times.

Other than that I enjoyed the Peculiar Children much more than Midnight's Children. And it too is an award nominee, included on the Young Adult Library Services Association's 2012 Top Ten Teen Fiction. Highbrow enough for you?

So closes the book on my February reading. One thing has occurred to me as I wrote this post. I admitted to not finishing Midnight's Children but I did include it in my "read" books on Goodreads. The experience of trying to read it felt like I deserved to get credit for it somehow.  So did the math people behind the curtain at Goodreads know that I checked off an unfinished book? If so, how? Is that why my little widget reflects 9%? The algorithmic folks may have a little paranormal ability themselves...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Fragmentorum

I have a few choice fragments to share this Friday. Not promising they will be interesting or useful, but they definitely are fragmented...

  • I learned a new term this week. You probably did too since I heard this term covered on NPR and on more than a few TV news shows.  These shows informed me that I have apparently been indulging (or overindulging by definition) in binge watching.  Binge watching is when you watch several episodes of a TV show consecutively in a marathon fashion.  Binge watching was easy to do when they started selling full seasons of shows on DVD.  Now it's even easier with the ability to buy full seasons from iTunes and the like and to directly stream show after show through the web.  I binge watched seasons 1 & 2 Downton Abbey before Christmas so I would be ready for the Season 3 premier in January.  That was important.  I have recently binge watched several House of Cards from NetFlix.  Now that I have the bingeing habit, I need to know how to purge. That's what usually follows a binge, right?
  • My oldest son's middle school registration for next year's classes is underway.  He will be in 8th grade and has selected Latin as his language of choice.  I think it's a good choice for him. Knowledge of Latin increases students' English vocabulary through the study of English word derivatives from the Latin, so says the course catalog.  I'm just hoping for an expansion of my son's Middle School vocabulary; we can tackle the rest of the English language later.  Until then, I thought we might get a jump on Latin so I translated a few of his most frequent phrases:
Etiam quisquis means "Yeah, whatever."

Ego obliti means "I forgot."

Ego odi domum opus means "I hate homework."

All to which I respond, Multum te amo arguo meaning "I love you too much to argue."
(one of my favorite go-to phrases from Love and Logic)

  • I must be going through my second adolescence. I secretly borrowed my son's on-the-spot acne cream this morning and I find myself reading a teen best seller, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.  Etiam quisquis.
Felix fragmentorum ad omnes!  Plus est (there is more) at Mrs. 4444's

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Road Trippin' Hodgepodge Style

It's Wednesday and I am joining the Hodgepodge.

1. When were you last 'on a mountaintop'?  You may answer in the literal or figurative sense.

It's easy to answer this question in the literal sense. The last time I was on a mountaintop was over the Christmas holidays. We visited our favorite mountains, The Smokies. They never cease to put me in a state of awe.

From a figurative sense, this question is harder to answer. Figuratively, "on a mountaintop" means that you have arrived at the top after a long, arduous journey, an uphill climb or are at the high point of life. Many times I have found myself on a figurative mountaintop: Graduating from college, getting married, becoming a parent (both times). Those were pinnacle moments and I felt the thrill, gratitude and awe to have arrived at that high place.

But all of those summits were followed, almost immediately, by other mountainous challenges: starting my career, navigating married life, parenting. Seems there is always another mountain to climb. 

Life sets you in the center of a vast mountain range, with peaks and valleys all around. The trick is to keep climbing and appreciate the views whether you are at the summit or ambling along some foothills trail.

2.  Do you establish and maintain a strict budget in your household?  What is one piece of financial advice you would offer someone just starting out on their own? 

The short answer is no if you mean really write a budget and follow it. But the short answer rarely suffices. The long answer is that I was an accountant in a previous part of my life. That was my education and job. It turns out you can take the girl out of the accounting firm but you can't take the accounting firm out of the girl. So, I track everything. I tally and total everything else. I know how much we have spent, I know how much we need to spend, I how much we can spend. I know how much we save, I how much owe. I know when we can make a large purchase or when we need to postpone. I, like the compulsive accounting geek I used to be, follow our family's accounting cycle each month. Then the other Managing Partner (my husband) and I sit down periodically to review the results. We call it our "Show Me the Money" talks. 

The one piece of financial advice I might offer comes from something I learned the hard way. I didn't always pay attention to my finances like I do now. Early in my working life, I was a'countin' other people's money and didn't do much a'countin' of my own. So I would encourage someone starting out on their own to pay attention to their finances. By paying attention I mean, knowing the ins and outs of what comes in and out each month financially. You have to know where your money goes. Finances are like any thing else: you have to pay attention to them to understand them and then to effect them in a positive way. Nothing will make you want to control your own spending and make better financial decisions more than watching for a few months your own uncontrolled spending. This is true whether you are making minimum wage or are in the 1%. Or are a Federal government.

Oh, and pay off your credit card balance every month. If you can't pay it off each time, you are using it too much. I learned that one the hard way too.

Oh, and save, even if it's only a little bit, every time money comes your way.

3.  Cherries-yay or nay?  Cherry pie, cherry cola, black forest cake, or a scoop of Ben and Jerry's Cherries Garcia...pick one. 

When offered a cherry to pick, I say nay. Not if there is something else to choose.

4.  Should you ever discuss religion or politics with people you don't know? 

Should you? Sure. Why not? Those are great conversational topics. But they are controversial and potentially contentious. So, be ready for a debate.

I rarely get into those topics with people I don't know. I don't bring up those topics, but if someone else does, I may play along. I sometimes find it easier to talk about those potentially contentious topics when I don't know the person than with say, my own family.

5.  When you take a road trip do you prefer to be the driver or the passenger?  Where were you headed on your last road trip? 

I prefer to be the passenger so I can enjoy the sights, control the music, divvy out snacks and nap at will. But I also have to realize that I am not the best navigator so if the road trip requires someone to plot the course, maybe I should drive. I also have a tendency to motion sickness when I am a passenger. So you might want me to drive too. 

Last road trip: where else but The Smokies.

6. If we peeked inside your closet, what color would we say is most prevalent?


7. Who's your favorite senior citizen and why are they special?

My favorite senior citizen would have to be my grandmother, Oma. Sadly, she is no longer with us. I wrote a post about her a few years ago. It tells why she was so special. 

I'll also choose my favorite living senior citizen; that's my mother. She is so much like Oma but special in her own right. She is the most selfless, giving person I know. That is very special.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Sometimes we fear "becoming our mothers". I have no fear of that.

Now, road trip on over the This Side of the Pond for more Hodgepodgin'!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pinewood, Piggies and Pride

This story starts at the end. Pinewood 2013 is over and Helios' car is happily stored away in its display case, along with his and Leonardo's prior year models.

These are the custom display boxes I described yesterday, where they proudly hang on the boys' bedroom wall.

Helios walked away with 3rd place in his Den and Most Creative over all.

And that is a Bad Piggies car. All the kids knew it. Few of the adults did.

It is faster than it looks.

It even won a few heats.

And both Daddy and son were proud of their work.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday Schooled - Wrangling your Pinewood Derby Cars

Today we race.

Helios' Pinewood Derby Race is this afternoon. This is always an exciting day in the life of a Cub Scout and his family. In our house, the weeks leading up to the race are spent planning, drawing designs, making several trips to the hobby store, revving up the power saw, fine-tuning with the belt sander, adding flair with paint. It is a collaborative process between father and son culminating in the shared excitement on race day.

I enjoy watching the process from start to finish. But the race is not the end of the process. The grand finale (for me) is when we get home after the race and the current year's car is displayed and stored. In the spirit of organizational euphoria, the following revisits an old post from 2011 and perfectly explains not the least of my Derby excitement. 

What do you get when you have two boys who are/were both Cub Scouts, who both either have made or will make a Pinewood Derby car for every year of the five years in a Cub Scout career? The answer: no good way to store and display ten Pinewood Derby cars.

If you search, online or hoofing it around town, you won't find a way to store and display all five Derby cars for a Scout. You can find individual display boxes for a single car, but they are plastic and bulky and who really wants five, bulky plastic display cases? You have to have a fairly large shelf area for all those and that then creates another storage and display nightmare.

So what's a Cub Scout parent with a slightly compulsive organizational bent to do? Make your own custom shadow box.

That's what we did this weekend. It was fairly easy and I'll show you how we did it. I didn't take pictures from start to finish. I remembered after about three steps in to take pictures but you haven't missed much. We (Hubby and I) started with two purchased 12"x12" shadow box from Jo-ann, Etc., 3 feet of shoe molding from Home Depot, a few wooden cubes, wood glue, and black spray paint.

Each 12"x12" box needed to be configured to display five cars which each measures 7 inches in length and 2-1/2 inches in width. I won't force you to do the math because we've already done it. You'll see how that configuration works out but you'll have to wait until later. After we measured, cut and painted, this is what the project looked like.

We cut the shoe molding into sixteen 1-1/2 inch segments. The long flat pieces came with the purchased shadow box frames as spacers. We cut those into six 8 inch segments and left two uncut at 12 inches. Next we started gluing the pieces together to form our custom shadow box shelves.

You probably haven't been able to fully concentrate on the previous steps due to that math problem swirling around in your head. So I'll end your distraction by showing you the configuration.

Each horizontal shelf is eight inches long and they are spaced vertically, three inches apart. The single vertical segment is four inches wide. The shoe molding segments serve as shelf brackets and a lone wooden cube makes a pedestal for a single car.

And here are the finished products.

I bet I could sell these.

Or at least the idea.

I know the Cub Scout parental market in a small niche, but how much do you think they'd be willing to pay for a custom shadow box to display their child's handiwork?

Addendum 2013 - For my Cub Scouting friends, let me know if you would like more information or assistance with creating your own Derby Display.

Friday, February 15, 2013

BYO-Friday Fragments

Today we have Friday Fragments and I just have to start by saying I love the image that Mrs. 4444 described in her intro to Friday Fragments today. Go read her actual words. She described your brain being fried with stubborn crusty bits left in the pan. Here is what's left soaking in my pan:

I revived my Twitter account this week. Actually, I revisited it. Seems it has been chugging right along without me, with my blog posts feeding directly to it as they are known to do. Aside from blog posts, I had not tweeted or read anyone else's tweet in quite some time.

I was inspired to get back on Twitter by the administration at my son's middle school. They all tweet. And now I have one other way to know what is going on in middle school....which is nice because my son isn't always sharing the info.

It is amazing how much technology is used in our schools. As proof, I heard a new term this week which pertains to technology in schools. Do you know what BYOD means?  It means "Bring Your Own Device."  Since devices (tablets, iPads, other handheld devices) are so prevalent in our daily livese, schools are considering (and many may already have) implemented policies where students BYOD to use during the school day, for actual scholastic purposes.

Just so you know, my son has other things to wear than this hoodie. It seems to appear in every picture. He wears a clean shirt under it everyday, I promise. But the hoodie is a must. C'est la middle school.

BYOD brings up all sorts of issues like equity between those that have devices and those that don't, how to provide devices for those that don't, controlling access to inappropriate content for all, theft, liability and things I probably can't even imagine. Lots to consider.

But like it or not, technology will continue to play a larger and larger roles in our lives and our schools.

Technology even helped G-ma revive her bowling form and competitive spirit over Christmas.

Technology is even influencing the shape of Cub Scout Pinewood Derby cars. Our Pack's Derby is this Sunday and there is one particular Webelos whose entry is designed after a certain vehicle from Bad Piggies.  I think he is striving for the "Crowd Favorite" award again this year or the "Least Like a Car" award.  Maybe this isn't exactly what Don Murphy had in mind in 1953, but there is a lot of craftsmanship and father-son bonding imbued in the making of this particular pinewood car. You'll get to see the final product and much more from the Derby after Sunday.

Happy Friday Fragments!


Friday, February 8, 2013

Fragmented Manifesto

Why do you only hear about people issuing manifestos when they are up to no good? The former policeman shooting up the hills in Southern California has a manifesto. The Unibomber had a manifesto. Adolf Hitler wrote a manifesto.

I looked up manifesto just to be sure I knew the proper definition. The following is from

n. pl. man·i·fes·toes or man·i·fes·tos
A public declaration of principles, policies, or intentions, especially of a political nature.
intr.v. man·i·fes·toedman·i·fes·to·ingman·i·fes·toes
To issue such a declaration,

So by definition, there is no requirement for a manifesto to be negative or for the actions following the issuance of the manifesto to be malicious. But that's what seems to follow a manifesto: violence and harm.

The Declaration of Independence is a manifesto. There was a little bit of violence after that was issued. It's a more sensible example of a manifesto than the three above, maybe because it was written by committee rather than by a unshowered guy alone in his basement, shack or bunker. Other members of the committee were there to talk the crazy guy down off the ledge.

Manifestos require that you state your belief on something, state what you wish to achieve and that you share these statements publicly. That's what Jerry Macguire did, but his was a called mission statement. If the plot of Jerry Macguire included him shooting up the sports agency office, it would have been a manifesto.

On a positive note, today is Girl Scout Cookie Day. Sadly, I have no Girl Scout Cookies to show for it. Where are my friends with daughters? Why have they not sold me any cookies yet? I'm going to carry my checkbook with me today in case I run into a Daisy so I can buy some Thin Mints. I hope I see a Brownie so I can get me some Samoas. If I see an Junior running around, I'll get some Tag-alongs. 

In case you didn't know, those make up the Holy Trinity of Girl Scout cookies.

All Hail the Cookies!

If the price of Girl Scout cookies keeps rising as it has over the past few years, I wouldn't be surprised if we hear about a new manifesto with the chief complaint being the cost of the cookies. It won't be from me though. I will pay top dollar for the Holy Trinity.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Goodreads in 2013

I joined Goodreads some time last year. I added a few books to my shelves and that was that. Much like some other online things, I didn't get heavily involved in Goodreads. My account sat silent and unused until yesterday. I decided to give it another go and track my reading this year. I also want to know what my friends are reading. And I am sure you all have been dying to know what I am reading.

I've dusted off my account and joined the 2013 Goodreads Reading Challenge, setting a goal of reading 20 books this year. That's not an unrealistic goal for me. What might be unrealistic is me actually keeping up the activity of logging what I read in Goodreads.

There is a widget over on my sidebar that shows my progress in the challenge. So far, I've finished A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling.

Not only did I read it, but here's my review on Goodreads:

It's not Harry Potter but still a good read. A very clever soap opera-ish tale full of proper bad stabbing and small village political connivery, executed by believably flawed and fouled characters.

I am currently reading The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick.

I like to read a book before seeing the movie and I really want to see this movie. The book so far is so good.

Anyone want to join me in a reading challenge? Find me on Goodreads.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I'm Playing Today...the Wednesday Hodgepodge

This is a rare day in that I am hooking up with Joyce's Wednesday Hodgepodge and playing along in her weekly random question game. I should do this more often....she makes you think and laugh a little too.

1.  Chinese New Year will be celebrated on February 10th, and 2013 is the year of the snake. When did you last see a snake?  Are you okay around snakes or do they give you the shivers? 

This is the last snake I saw, coiled around my son's neck, on Tuesday. He volunteers weekly at a local nature center cleaning reptile enclosures and feeding various lower life forms. Through our visits to the nature center, I have gotten comfortable enough to touch the snakes there. But if I stumble upon one in the wild or my backyard, I will scream and move my feet quicker than you can say heebie-jeebies!

2. The color red in Chinese culture usually means good luck.  Do you believe in luck? 

For lack of any other explanation, I will attribute things to luck. But when it comes down to it, I am not sure luck really exists and that there isn't something greater at work. There are certain people who seem to "have all the luck" and others who are always "down on their luck". When I think of it in big picture terms like that, I believe there is a higher purpose at play. But on a smaller scale, sometimes you do just get lucky.

3. sledding-ice skating-building a snowman...if given a choice, which activity would you choose?  Which of the three have you done most recently?  

If I must chose one of those cold weather activities, I would choose sledding mainly because I wouldn't choose either of the other activities. Building a snowman is like work so that's not something I consider fun. Although I love when my kids make them. Keeps them busy and they like it. Ice skating looks fun but I don't have very good balance for that activity. The risk of a cracked tailbone keeps me off skates. The last time I attached something to my feet  it was roller blades and I promptly fell on my rear. I've got nothing to prove on any kind of skate. So, sledding it is. And sledding is fun. If by "have done recently" you mean sitting in the warm van taking pictures with my phone of the kids sledding, then I sledded as recently as two winters ago.

4.  Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited as saying, "The years teach much which the days never knew."  Where have you seen this quote played out in your own life? were so wise.  I would say this quote applies to my life in that my years have taught me even the toughest day will pass and a new one will dawn. On a dark day, I may feel that my sorrow or strife knows no end, but a new day arrives and my load has eased. I also interpret this quote by knowing that I move through my days living the moments, great and ordinary, but not always appreciating them. Only when I stack my years up in review can I fully appreciate the gift of time and life.

5. When was the last time you ate a cupcake?  

Speaking of sweet niece brought us delicious cupcakes from Fraiche Cupcakery in Bethesda a few months ago. My favorite was the gingerbread.

6. What's something you can't say no to?  

There used to be many things I couldn't say no to: chocolate, coffee, dessert, someone asking a favor, volunteer opportunities. I guess you might call it maturity, wisdom or self-control, but I can say no to all of those things now when I need to. I still say yes to them all very often but not to my detriment...usually.

7.  Are you a doodler?  

I used to doodle when I was much younger and pens were in hand more often than phones. Now, I don't doodle as in absent-mindedly drawing little cartoonish scenes on the margins of my paper. But I doodle down lists of things to do all day. I wish I were a true doodler though. I guess you have to be less task-oriented that I am to be a doodler. Or not be holding a phone.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.  

I am generally disgusted by what happens in our nation's capitol so you think the last thing I would be interested in is watching a television series about fictitious (are they really?) disgusting things that happen in our nation's capitol. But I am hooked on Netflix's House of Cards. I loved West Wing back in the day. This is West Wing gone rotten. Yes!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What's In A Name?

In the spirit of love and chocolate...

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
Juliet in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Juliet railed at the injustice that forbid her to love Romeo because his surname was that of her family's most bitter rival. Based on names, their love was wrong.

Just like Romeo's and Juliet's houses were divided, our house too is split by a name. There is a cookie that my husband and I both love for which I have one name and he has another. We both were served these cookies in our youth but our families called them different names.

The problem lies in that my husband does not like the name I use for these beloved cookies. I have no issue with the name he uses.

The cookie of which we speak has all the ingredients that make a good cookie. It starts with milk, sugar and butter.

1/2 cup milk, 2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup butter
Next, add unsweetened cocoa and peanut butter.

3 TBS unsweetened cocoa, 3 TBS peanut butter
You can play with the recipe a bit here. If you prefer just a peanutty taste, leave out the cocoa. We go with the chocolate meets peanut butter approach.

Combine all five ingredients over medium heat, bringing to a boil for 1 1/2 minutes. No matter how much you really want to or think you should, do not stir while it boils.

Remove the mixture from heat and stir in rolled oats and vanilla. You will be glad you saved your stirring arm in the last step, because the mixture really gets thick and stubborn.

3 cups rolled oats, 1 tsp vanilla extract
Once you have exhausted one arm stirring, use the other arm to drop the mixture by teaspoonful onto waxed paper covered cookie sheets. This makes about 4 - 5 dozen and your arm will know it. Let cool completely.

Now, about that name thing. You probably recognize these as a no-bake drop cookie and you might even have your own version of this recipe. It is a common one and you probably call them "No-bake" something or other.

But our house is divided on the name of our version. My name for them is based purely on their completed appearance. I think you can figure it out. Starts with a D, ends with an oo, then repeat.

My husband can not account for the source of his name for them. All we can guess is that wacky was the reaction his mom received when the kids heard she was making these. She named them Wacky Cookies in honor of the wacked out behavior they inspired.

They are so good, you might act a bit silly in anticipation.

My husband refuses to adopt my name for them; he says it is gross and unappetizing. But he eats them as quickly as I do. So the taste clearly overrides any mental aversion created by the feculent reference.

...What's in a name? That which we call a doodoo cookie
 by any other name would taste as sweet.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Obligatory Super Bowl Chatter and How Martha Let Me Down

I am required to talk about football given that the Super Bowl is today and the Ravens are playing. Let me just admit that I don't follow the Ravens which isn't that big of a deal around here to say. There are many around here who say that. But those folks then follow it up with the fact that they are Redskins fans. Or maybe Steelers fans if their loyalty leans in a northwesterly direction.

There have been many awkward conversations of late with me talking to purple-clad people where I feign excitement, interest and even a little bit of knowledge about the Ravens. I'm faking it all. I know very little about them. But I am happy for all of you purple-loving people. It's a big deal for your team to make it to today. I know that much.

I do like the Super Bowl commercials. I'll be watching for those. And I look forward to seeing Ray Lewis' emotional display. (I know about that too.) So, to be nice and fit in around here....Go Ravens!

Now that my obligatory football talk is complete, I need to bring forth a real issue. Martha Stewart has let me down. I have appreciated Martha's organizational, decorating, design and cooking prowess for as long as I have known her name. I am a fan but not a fanatic. My favorite of her offerings has been the little magazine Everyday Food.

I have subscribed to EDF since 2006. I like it so much, I have given EDF gift subscriptions to spread the love. I have saved every issue and refer back to the archive frequently.

There is no other magazine that holds these claims for me. All other magazines are tossed in the recycling bin before the next month's issue arrives. The only other mag I subscribe to is one with a real simple name...and it is a good magazine but I don't keep it around. If I need to recall something from a previous issue, I have the internet for that.

I could possibly benefit from one of Martha's kitchen cabinet makeovers by the looks of the upper shelf, but this isn't about my kitchen organizational failings. This is about how Martha failed me.

I keep EDF around because it is full of great recipes, not just one or two that look appealing like many other mags. Each issue holds several very usable, tasty recipes. I like recipes that make flavorful, filling dishes without an excessively long or hard to find list of ingredients. EDF's manageable, normal ingredients lists create easy, delicious meals and treats.

I keep EDF around because of its size:  5.25 inches by 7.375 inches. It fits nicely on a cabinet shelf. I bet Martha, or her well-paid minions, spent untold hours and dollars determining the most gratifying dimensions for EDF. They wanted it to feel comfortable in your hands, not too unwieldy, not too floppy like a full sized magazine. They wanted it to be of the size that you didn't mind keeping; the smaller size doesn't take up excessive space like a 9 by 11 magazine would. Who doesn't have a spare bit of shelf to keep six plus years of perfectly sized magazines?

My copies are dog-eared, tabbed and well-loved. They give a bright, crazy quilt welcome when I open my cabinet to their rectangular rainbow palette. I love them. I use them, not every day but so often that I would call them my Almost Everyday Food or my Really Really Often Food magazines.

This past fall I got a nice letter from Martha. She said that the December issue would be the last for EDF, due to some reasons...actually she didn't even give reasons. She just said she had decided to change the way EDF is distributed. It will now be a five times a year supplement to her Living magazine. For my loyalty, my EDF scubscription will be seamlessly transformed into a Living subscription. She said to watch my mailbox in January for my first Living issue and to wait patiently for my first EDF supplement in the March issue. To sweeten the pot, I was also invited to sign up and enjoy Everyday Food on YouTube.

The news was not good to me. But I thought to reserve judgment until I had a few issues of Living. I'd give her the benefit of the doubt because we all know that Martha does...

I've received two issues of Living (without the EDF supplement so that's still an unknown) and I am ready to judge. Admittedly, Living contains some really good Martha nuggets of wisdom, some good recipes and some nice decorating tips. But sandwiched between the good things I find the ridiculous, the first of which is Martha's Month.

Martha's Month is a monthly inclusion in Living. Its header states that it includes gentle reminders, helpful hints and important dates for the month.

For two months, I have received no help from Martha's calendar unless you consider a good laugh helpful. Here are a few examples of Martha's "helpful hints:"

This one is timely:
February 3
Go to the Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.

That's easy for most people to do. Thank you Martha for the gentle reminder. And I'll make sure to get home early enough on the 4th to sharpen my knives, scissors and garden tools too. You're the best.

And thank you for the heads up on Allyn's birthday on the 12th. I will mark my own calendar on the 11th to look her/him up on the internet to find out who that is.

Martha's Month of February includes many other essentials for living such as taking inventory of my potting soils (one rotten half bag in the garage - check) and spending the entire day of the 17th "hoping for snow". I originally (on my own, before I had Martha's guidance) had scheduled that for the 15th but now I see that the 17th is a much better day for hoping. Honestly, I don't know how I would survive the month without Martha's gentle prodding hand to move me through each day.

And I thought my EDF magazine was useful. Who knew what I was missing? Maybe there are fifty or so women in the greater New York area who knew.  Or possibly I am just too bourgeoisie to appreciate the living that Martha promotes.

I am still awaiting my March EDF supplement in Living. Based on the usefulness of the January and February issues of Living, I am doubtful that the supplements will be as cherished as the full magazine was. But I'll be ready to judge again when I see it.

Until then...Go Ravens!