Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy

So there we go, I read (i.e. listened in audiobook form) Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, the third and most recent Bridget Jones book. I am not used to reading a book so soon after it is released. I am usually at least a year behind as I have to wait for the library to get a copy, then wait for it to cycle through all those on-the-ball people who put holds on it before I did. I was second in line for the audio book ūüėČ

I went into the book completely oblivious to anything other than it being Bridget Jones 10 years later. My sister offered to tell me the big plot reveal she regretfully overheard in an interview, but I declined. I am not sure that I am glad or not.

I’m going to go ahead and throw up the spoilers alert now. Although, the big shocking reveal is given away within the first three chapters. Nonetheless, I’d hate to ruin it for anyone.

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Mark Darcy is dead to begin with. It’s as though Helen Fielding knew she had her readers taught by the heartstrings and decided to pull the crap out of them. Again and again, your heart is broken as you follow Bridget Jones through years 4 and 5 after being widowed, now raising two small children on her own. Rather than summarizing plot, I really just want to give my critique, because I’m dying to talk about it and so far don’t know anyone who has read it also.

  • Helen Fielding robbed the readers of what we all really wanted — to see Bridget and Mark living happily ever after. We wanted to see Mark as a husband and father. How can Colin Firth even be in the movie?? She robbed us of more Colin Firth. There had better be lots of flashbacks with Colin Firth.
  • Nonetheless, it was fun to see a grown up and only slightly more mature Bridget Jones grapple with small children, carpool lanes, twitter and botox. The series, after all, is about her. It would be an entirely different Bridget if she were happily married. We wouldn’t really see the Bridget Jones we know and love deal with the trials of middle age, if she were unconditionally loved and supported by well-adjusted Mark Darcy.
  • Ultimately I feel like it was just a reprisal of Bridget Jones’s Diary. Fielding just added in the heartbreak. Instead of play-boy Daniel, it’s toy-boy Roxter. In place of stoic, lawyer Mark Darcy, it’s stoic, soldier Mr. Wallaker; complete with romping sex, misunderstandings and misplaced resentment, illumination and regret, then finally the kiss in the snow kiss in the pub.
  • Either way, the new book is hilarious. I consider myself a Bridget Jones fan, and I did enjoy seeing her all grown up, as it were. Still she called on her merry band of (now full professional) drunkards to help her sort out the latest crisis and still she cannot help but spoil every outfit she’s wearing. But middle aged Bridget is a more mature narrator. She still puts her foot in her mouth, but it’s not as awkward or painful to watch as in previous books. ¬†Maybe I just better relate with mom-Bridget than perpetually-single-Bridget.
  • Finally, I think it was a fun read, enjoyable and a fair installment to the Jones saga. Ultimately it is about her, and not her and Mark so I guess we have to get over it. Blowing him up in the Sudan leaves little wiggle room to bring him back from the dead 5 years later. I’d rank Mad About The Boy above The Edge of Reason, but still below Bridget Jones’s Diary.
  • If you’re a Bridget Jones fan, you’ll enjoy the new book. If you’re not…what are you doing reading the third book anyways?
  • If anyone’s asking, I think Daniel Craig would make an excellent Mr. Wallaker, although this might prevent his shooting a boudoir scene with Judi Dench.

Firth Craig

Start with a Pumpkin, End with a Pie

I was going to make pumpkin puree this week for Thanksgiving pumpkin pies, but I was tired instead. But, fear not. I was going to use the same process I’ve used (and blogged) before. So here’s a little blast from the past to inspire Thanksgiving pies.

Being the Carruths

One of the joys of living on your own is getting to do all those little things you’ve always kind of wanted to, but for one reason or another couldn’t while at home. Like buy your own groceries, hang your bed from the ceiling, or walk around naked. With my new found freedom, I set out to answer a question I had often asked: If I had a pumpkin, could I make a pie?? The answer came to me quickly from the intertubes with a resounding YES! This is that journey…

The Pumpkin that would be Pie:

Pie Facts:

  1. Pie pumpkins are 6″-8″ in diameter
  2. The smaller the pumpkin the sweeter and less grainy the meat. Larger, jack-o-lantern pumpkins aren’t as sweet, so if making a pie with Halloween left overs you have to add sugar to the mixture.
  3. One pie pumpkin yeilds about the same as one canned pumpkin
  4. Canned pumpkin‚Äďwith‚Ķ

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Weekend Project

Three years ago, give or take, I found this picture frame on the side of the street. For three years I’ve kept it tucked away until I could find the perfect project for it. I’ve had a few ideas, but nothing I thought I could really pull off, until…

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Sunday, Ryan took Felicity with him to his school’s library and ended up spending the whole day in New Orleans. Having only two kids under foot, I was naturally bored out of my mind and frantic for something to do. I had been toying with the idea of hanging the frame above the buffet cabinet for seasonal decorations. The pinterest-speration went something like this:

Source Link in Picture
Source Link in Picture
Source Link in Picture

You see where I’m going with this? I had a smattering of white spray paint leftover from various things; the frame was a creamy off-white and had some smudge marks and nicks. I sprayed the frame white to freshen it up. Then, as soon as Ryan got home, I jumped in the car and ran to the craft store for some chalkboard paint and painted the backboard into a blackboard (that was just fun for me to write). I was disappointed that the paint had to sit for 24 hours before being used because I was running on an adrenaline high. Nonetheless, I think it was worth the wait!

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We don’t have a mantle and all of our other flat surfaces are purely utilitarian (and accessible to toddler hands) so I’m excited to make this the center of our seasonal decorations. I’m already dreaming of Christmas, baby showers, Easter and birthday parties. I just free-handed “Give Thanks”, but if you’ve noticed my pinterest boards lately, you may have seen some more inspirations. I have a lot of practice ahead of me, but I think it will be a lot of fun. The living room¬†is moving ahead by leaps and bounds. I still have a few more secrets up my sleeve that should be ready for reveal soon, so stick around!

Buffet Before 1 Buffet Before

Buffet After 1 Buffet After 2

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Middle Child’s Day in the Sun

091The stars just happened to align last week and I was given an entire morning with just Felicity. Since Evangeline has given up naps, and Felicity has been better about going to sleep at night, there isn’t a time where Felicity is the only one up. I got very excited about the time we would have together. We try to give each of the kids special time where they get to go with one of us to the library or the grocery — something special that only they get to do. We think this is important since we have multiple kids and we know as life goes on it will be harder and harder to do. So when opportunities like this one rolls around, I want to make the most of it.

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It is such a joy to watch Felicity’s personality develop differently than her sister. In so many ways she mimics Evangeline and likes to copy her every move. Even so, though, she is becoming her own person entirely. Evangeline loves spending time with us. She wants to know where we are at all times and what we are doing. She wants to be with us. Felicity, however, wants to do what we do, but not necessarily with us. She wants to sit where the adults sit and play where the big kids play. She is the funniest kid to watch because she’s in her own little world. You can see her making plans and acting out different scenes in her mind. You will loose sight of her for awhile, then catch her in your peripheral vision walking by with a mixing bowl, a loaf of bread or a laundry basket and you just know she has big plans for it.

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Felicity did not enjoy the constant attention she was offered on this hallow day, however. Oh she was happy I was around, she just didn’t like that I was *always* around. Apparently she enjoys living her life under the radar and it ruffles her feathers to turn around and find mom there every time. I took her outside and asked if she wanted me to push her on the swing. She said no and made a b-line for her sister’s bike. It was funny to watch. She seemed to go back and forth between not knowing what to do without Evangeline there to running from toy to toy knowing she was free to play with whatever she wanted for however long she wanted.

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I tried to direct her fun day as an only child, but ultimately I had to sit down and just let her play. Every so often, she’d come join me on the swing and jabber a story to me, then hop down and go back on her merry way. I didn’t get to spend the time with her the same I would with Evangeline, but it was still a special time for both of us. I was happy she let me in her little world for a while, even if I had to be a mostly silent observer.

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A Cheater’s Fried Rice

For those of you who’ve been following the gastric journey of the Carruths, you know I’ve been making Chinese take-out dishes at home a la The Chinese Take Out Cookbook. It’s been fun cooking these dishes from scratch and for nearly everything we’ve done so far, it has been well worth the effort. I say “nearly” for only one reason: fried rice.

Maybe I’m not a big enough fried-rice-fan or my palate isn’t refined for this, but I just don’t care. I’ve tried the recipe in the cookbook and I’ve tried other more involved recipes with egg etc. None of them really seem that worth it.

So, I’ve fashioned my own quick, cheater’s fried rice. It’s way faster, hardly involved at all and, at least to my uncultured palate, just as good.

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Begin by cooking rice. Every recipe I’ve found uses “leftover” rice. Basically just make rice ahead of time. I make mine earlier in the day, strain it, and then run it under hot water to warm it back up before I use it.

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Heat a deep skillet on the stove as hot as you can get it. Add oil. Just enough to coat the bottom. Once the oil is hot, add frozen stir-fry style veggies and cook until thawed– 2-3 minutes give or take.

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Once the veggies are cooked, add the rice in and lower the heat. Toss the veggies and rice, mixing all together. Pour soy sauce over the rice.

Give it 1-2 minutes on the lower heat for everything to mix and heat up together. Serve right away or cover and simmer to keep warm.

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We’ve been enjoying Target’s house-brand, Archer Farm’s asparagus stir-fry mix. But now that there are 4 Carruths eating at every meal, we’d need at least two bags and even then, we wouldn’t each get a very large helping of veggies. Adding them to the rice, though, helps the veggies go further. It also has the added bonus of sneaking vegetables in with rice in such a way that the girls can’t help but eat some green things.

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So is it just me? Am I just a fried rice barbarian or is there some finesse to it? I prefer lo mein, but haven’t found a recipe I want to try yet.

Robert Louis Stevenson on Child Rearing

One of the books we frequently check out from the library to read to the kids is Robert Louis Stevenson’s Child’s Garden of Verses. Published in 1885, it is a collection of short poem verses about children and childhood — most notably The Land of Nod.¬†There may come a time when our kids memorize some of these short poems, but for right now, we just read and enjoy them. There are some that bring a particularly smug smirk to our faces and I’d thought I’d share them here.

From¬†Child’s Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson’s thoughts on child rearing:

Whole Duty of Children

A Child should always say what’s true

And speak when he is spoken to,

And behave mannerly at the table;

At least as far as he is able

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System

Every night my prayer I say,

And get my dinner every day;

And every day that I’ve been good,

I get an orange after food.

The Child that is not clean and neat,

with lots of toys and things to eat,

He is a naughty child, I’m sure —

Or else his dear papa is poor.

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Good and Bad Children

Children, you are very little,

And your bones are very brittle;

If you would grow great and stately,

You must try to walk sedately.

You must be bright and quiet,

And content with simple diet;

And remain, through all bewild’ring,

Innocent and honest children.

Happy hearts and happy faces,

Happy play in grassy places–

That was how, in ancient ages,

Children grew to kings and sages.

But the unkind and the unruly,

And the sort who eat unduly,

They must never hope for glory–

Theirs is quite a different story!

Cruel children, crying babies,

All grew up as geese and gabies,

Hated, as their age increases,

By their nephews and their nieces.

The Ties That Bind

I’ve begun thinking lately how we identify with our families and how modern families are lacking¬†in this area. Surely we value family traits like matching noses or similar senses of humor and even heirlooms, but rarely do families have tangible items that identify them as a part of their family.

For most of us, our families do not have a current coat of arms, or signet rings. The tombstones of our dearly departed are void of family mottos. Our houses are merely “home” or “the house on Highland Street”.

Certainly there is more to uniting a family than simply adopting a phrase or agreeing on a doodle to put on stationary;¬†I do not intend this to be an article about the state of the modern family. This post is a bit more whimsical and romantic than that. Not “why don’t we have family emblems anymore?” but rather “what if we did!”

The Coat of Arms for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

There are so many grueling un-pleasantries¬†that come with growing up. One of the true joys of being an adult is starting a family of your own –expanding your existing families, continuing the good, correcting the bad, and carving out a unique niche for your own household. What if our intention of starting a family went beyond just creating children to creating and embracing a family identity? What if we gave our children not just their material needs, but a sense of place and belonging within our families?

What if we officially symbolized our family’s values?

Especially in our Cathol-o-sphere of friends, it’s not uncommon for a family to name a particular saint as patron of their home and family: a saint who’s story or identifying virtues attract a family to imitate. I’ve also heard of choosing particular virtues to strive for as a family. This isn’t to say these parents want all of their children to be exactly the same or that individuality isn’t encouraged, but rather they mark out what is valued in their family.

Saint Benedict

I think it is fair to say our family has un-officially adopted Saint Benedict as our family saint. The Benedictine Handbook, in particular, influences our parenting and our household management. Benedict is also a patron saint of students. The Carruth love of books is often a subject of jokes. Ryan and I find books and learning to be among the true delights of life and excitedly share this with our children. We read to them  encouraging curiosity, learning and problem solving at every opportunity. Respect for words, and the skill necessary to write them  are among the traits we enjoy and hope endures within our family.

What virtues describe your family? What virtues do you want your family to strive for? Faithfulness, Bravery, Hospitality, Eutropalia (having child-like joy and fun)? As I mentioned, our family values the love of learning, but there are also virtues we are constantly striving for. I think the most obvious, blaring one is consistency. We understand that in order for our house to run smoothly, orderly, and without attracting bugs, we have to have routines. We try, gosh darn it, but we’re still failing (speaking of, I still need to make the bed…) It is safe to say, consistency is a virtue we all, as a family, are working towards.¬†

If you could choose a family motto what would it be?¬†Ryan astutely suggested (as a joke) for our family¬†Awkward, but Well-Meaning¬†which, like most things, sounds better in latin — ¬†Imperitus sed Benevolens.¬†I think that is self-explanatory. While ours is a motto describing our current state, another family may choose a motto involving the best traits their family: Semper Fi¬†or what they hope generations to come will remember:¬†To Thine Own Self Be True

The Last Enemy to be Defeated is Death

If you could design an emblem for your family, what symbols would it include? I’ve actually been turning different ideas around in my head, but I keep getting stuck. I like the idea of using the imagery of each of our children’s saints, but the biggest problem is, what about when we have more children? I guess this is why families would create an emblem and stick with it for generations. I like the idea of a child sitting under a cypress tree reading a book — maybe the Benedictine Handbook — surrounded in laural wreath style by the flowers of Evangeline and Felicity’s saints. On the top, our family motto: Imperitus sed Benevolens.

What about you? Do you have a name for your house like Camelot or The Burrow? Do you think having a unified goal or motto or emblem could help bond a family together? Would you like to have something that showed you are a part of your family, or would you like for your children to grow up with these things in mind?

Carruths Read
The Carruths and their Books