7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 15)

January 2, 2009 | 46 comments

— 1 —

I try not to read more than one or two books at once but have managed to get myself bogged down reading a bunch of different books right now. I don’t know how this happened. (OK, I do know how it happened, and it had something to do with that MUST READ NOW impulse I get when I come across fascinating-looking books and the siren song of the “Add to Cart” button on Amazon.) The problem is that they’re all so good it’s hard to force myself to focus on any one long enough to finish it! In case any fellow bibliophiles are interested, my current reading stack includes:

And this does not include my huge stack (OK, stacks) of books that I have been given or bought that I haven’t had a chance to read yet. Ah, the life of an ADD book glutton.

— 2 —

My husband is still raving about the Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies I tried out for the first time as part of our baking day last month (#7 here). He says they’re the best cookies he’s ever had. If anyone would like the recipe, here it is. You’re welcome.

I am now going to promptly begin never thinking about Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies again since I am cutting out foods full of processed flour and sugar.

— 3 —

This will tell you a lot about my husband and me:

My big present to him this year was a spreadsheet. Yes, a spreadsheet. It was an analysis of our finances that he’d been wanting me to put together. I wrapped it in a big box so he wouldn’t expect what it was, and when he opened it he was like a kid getting a puppy.

Yes, we’re nerds.

— 4 —

Speaking of Christmas presents, this was the first time I ever succumbed to Christmas Present Derangement Syndrome. The Monday before Christmas I decided that the perfect present for my two-year-old daughter would be a rocking horse. My mom and I missed getting the last one at our local Toys R Us by five minutes.

We went to three more stores. Nobody had one. Called four more. All sold out. At some point in this process I morphed from “Christian mommy just doing some shopping while firmly remembering the real reason for the season” to “CRAZED CAVEWOMAN STALKING HER PREY.” I went into some sort of primal red zone where I was going to capture this rocking horse or die trying.

I finally got in touch with a Toys R Us on the other side of town who had one. Just ONE, and they wouldn’t hold it, let me pay for it by phone, or conveniently “lose” it in the back room for about 45 minutes if I promised to slip them a $20 when I got there. (Kidding about the last one…but I did think about it.)

When we arrived at the distant Toys R Us close to an hour later, it was like we were in some sort of B-movie where the Mother Ship was calling everyone home. Streams of people were slowly flooding into the already crowded store. I figured there’s no way the horse would still be there, so I just had my mom drop me off so I could run in and check. To my shock, it was there: the last rocking horse in central Texas.

Unfortunately I had not planned for this turn of events. I hadn’t gotten a cart, and there were none nearby. No employees in sight. I’d forgotten my cell phone. And it was too heavy for me to pick up. In a non-cavewoman state of mind I might have flagged down some nice passer-by to help, but at this point everyone who walked by just had a look about them that told me that they were HERE FOR THE ROCKING HORSE. I hunched over and scooted the massive box inch by inch the entire length of the Toys R Us showroom floor to the checkout area, flashing my eyes and barely resisting the urge to grunt menacingly at anyone who got too close to my kill.

…And on Christmas morning my daughter rode the rocking horse once and then played with wrapping paper the rest of the time.

— 5 —

Ever since I began blogging about food addiction, I’ve been flooded with emails and comments directing me to Kathleen DesMaisons’ site called Radiant Recovery. I read her great book Potatoes Not Prozac and thought her insights about the connection between addiction and nutrition were fascinating, so I look forward to reading about the 7 Steps to Feeling Great that she recommends.

— 6 —

My dad is a big astronomy buff and loves tracking celestial bodies as they move across the sky throughout the year. Here are three sunrise shots at the summer solstice, autumnal equinox and winter solstice, taken from the same spot at the airport where he works. You can compare the sun’s position to the control tower in each shot. It is interesting to see how much the sun moves!

Summer Solstice
Autumnal Equinox

Winter Solstice

— 7 —

I’m really enjoying being on Sister M. Kathleen’s Word of God email list. I love the simplicity: each email contains only a Bible verse and a brief quote from a saint. It always gives me some nice food for thought to start my day.

Below is a Mr. Linky list if you’d like to add a link to your own 7 Quick Takes post. (1) Make sure the link you submit is to the URL of your post and not your main blog URL. (2) Include a link back here.

I look forward to reading your posts!



  1. Amy Jane (Untangling Tales)

    I really liked Bird by Bird. I keep a used copy lying around to give to new/ YA writing friends.

    I have two huge aspirations this year related to books: not to buy anything new (all. year.), and to read copious amounts of books that wouldn’t nearly compare to more spiritual works, except that they’ll be part of the education toward my (felt) calling of writing.

    It is obedience.

    And suddenly (at least for now) I’m no longer embarrassed to tell the world what I’m reading.

  2. Kim

    Oh, boy. #2 and #4 just made me sigh in sympathy. And your dad’s photos — how cool! I’ve always thought that fascinating, but I’ve never seen it for myself. We don’t have far horizons where I live. πŸ™‚

    Thanks again for letting us all join in the fun!

  3. Christine the Soccer Mom

    I love the hunting … er, Christmas present story! I’m sure that eventually, she’ll have lots of adventures on her trusty horse as she rides the wild West with the Lone Ranger (or whoever rides the wild West these days). My horse like that was one of my favorites as a child, and I dispaired when I finally outgrew her!

    God bless you and yours, and I hope the rest of Christmas is filled with blessings and horseback riding.

  4. Multiple Mom T

    I love reading your blog!!

    Sorry, I’m not up to coming up with seven random things–still thinking about my own private “resolution session” with God last night and what that’s going to look like. Thank you for challenging me!

  5. bearing

    The 7 Steps at the Potatoes Not Prozac site were intriguing.

    As a person for whom weight control was a bigger problem than mental health, the bedtime potato doesn’t sound like it would have been a good idea for me (fasting from dinner till breakfast seems to be a big help for me personally), but I’m aware of the effects of potatoes and of bedtime food on my mental state and I can totally see how for some people it would be a good effect.

    I really like her one-step-at-a-time instructions. V. important on New Year’s Day. I would go so far as to say “don’t move on to a next step until previous step has become a habit and you have seen the results from it.”

  6. beyondhomemaking

    I have the same problem with books- I try to keep it to one fiction and one nonfiction, but right now I have about 5 nonfic books going along with my fiction. And did I mention that I just placed another amazon order? It’s a sickness.

  7. Michael

    ADD Book Glutton, I love that line. I guess I have that same problem, nothing to do but get all those books read. I myself am in the middle of three books, it might be four, but I haven’t picked the fourth book up on over three weeks and will probably have to start over…..or was it book two?

  8. Marie

    Watch out for the Radiant Recovery forums/e-mails… if you thought getting out of FlyLady was bad!!! I have the Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery Program (also by Kathleen D). I like some of the recipes in there…

  9. Lisa

    Just an fyi, we got a lot from the DeMaisons books and for chocolate chip cookies what I do is use the nestle toll house cookie recipe and substitute all whole wheat flour, that whole unrefined sugar (not the white sugar with the molasses added back in) and unsweetened carob chips. No good if you’re used to the real stuff, but if you’ve been off white for awhile you’ll love it. Don’t know if you are allowed the sugar, though — if not, go with ginger snaps, they use molasses!

  10. Lerin

    I had a big laugh on your rocking horse quest… if only we could remember just how much fun they have with simply the box and wrapping paper!

  11. Sarah Reinhard

    Bird by Bird is one of my favorite books – I hope you’re enjoying it. I read it before I really admitted that I was a writer (which sounds funny to say).

    I try not to read more than three books at a time (something spiritual, something non-fiction, and, of course, some fiction), but there are times when there’s just no controlling the reading beast! πŸ™‚

    A spreadsheet for Christmas…what’s weird about that? πŸ™‚

    And the pictures of the sun moving at the various points of the year are highly cool! Thanks for sharing them!

  12. Maria

    I took the plunge and joined in…

    Love your Dad’s photos. Quite a lesson in what all those change of season days really mean.

  13. Tami Boesiger

    Don’t you just hate what the Christmas season can do to you?! That’s the stuff that makes me say every year, “There must be a better way to celebrate!”

  14. asinamirror

    I love the pictures of the sun in the different seasons! Will you repost these at the vernal equinox? I’d be interested to see all four together!

  15. Anne

    I’m going to pretend I didn’t see that cookie and recipe! πŸ™‚

  16. Elizabeth

    I’m in! No time for longer comment, answering the bell of my now-awake baby!

  17. Trena

    YOu sound a lot like me. I am a spreadsheet geek myself and part of my Christmas present to my husband was an organizational chart.

  18. Heather

    Thanks for hosting this. I really enjoy your blog πŸ™‚

  19. Amber

    Oooh, Seven Storey Mountain. I read that one all the time. I love Thomas Merton.

    And my husband is the geekiest geek in all of geek-land. Not only is he a prgrammer, he plays RPGs, and what he wanted for Christmas is a subscription to a comic book about a bunch of nerds who play role-laying games, Knights of the Dinner Table (which I also love). Top that!

  20. Dawn

    That was so fun!!

  21. Whimsy

    I like the Derangement Syndrome story. I’m too grinchy to ever have that problem!

  22. Kristyn

    This was fun! Thanks. πŸ™‚

  23. Anonymous

    I’m going to try the cookies. I actually at one point got so I could bake and not eat.

    Rocky horse are a soft spot for me. My rocky horse is waiting for someone to take the pattern off and make one for my grandkids. When…

  24. Colleen

    Enjoy your blog. Love these Quick Take Fridays. Thank you! Bird by Bird was very good. I can relate to #1. That is me these days too. Blessings!

  25. Anna

    Those cookies sound fantastic! Too bad my husband doesn’t like chocolate, we are entirely incompatible when it comes to choosing desserts. Saves us money when dining out, though, since we’re way too frugal to buy two desserts and can never agree on one to split!

  26. Anonymous

    If you like seeing how the sun moves from day to day, try this picture from Astronomy Picture of the day.


    Jane M

  27. graceunbound

    I was a blue plastic rocking puppy stalker once. My toddler loved the one at daycare so I determined to find it for him. I found one, but the carton was dented so I was going to look around a bit more. Then I saw a stack of THREE of them. I was just getting ready to grab them when a man said, “Oh no, we’re taking all 3 of those, we’re just waiting for them to see if they can find the 4th one.” I swear, my mouth opened and I started to say “Oh, it’s right…” and then evil me took over and I shut my mouth, nonchalantly strolled over to the other aisle and grabbed the dog. As I strolled to the front of the store I heard the store assistant tell the man “I’ll just go check in back, it has to be somewhere because inventory lists it.” I felt guilty for about two minutes, but hey, I found the dog and they didn’t.

  28. Elaine T

    I love the photos of the sun. Please post them again in the spring.

    I suppose you would really rather I didn’t send you the recipe for Absolutely Deep Dark Chocolate Fudge Cookies? They’re in the Death By Chocolate Cookbook. The most chocolatey cookie we’ve ever baked, and we specialize in chocolate. Subsitute some flax seed and pasty ground whole wheat flour and you can even pretend they aren’t bad for you. (I can only eat one at a time.)

    Shall we start a book-addicts club?

  29. Ouiz

    I picked up the COMMONSENSE BOOK OF CATHOLIC PRAYER from Sophia Institute Press (in their $2 book section!!!) and it is wonderful! In fact… and I know this will sound odd because I don’t know you… it struck me as I was reading it as a “you” sort of book.

  30. Heather of the EO

    You are such a delight. I have stacks of books and try to keep them to two at a time too. I’ve recently found your blog and I’m loving it!

  31. Pam

    Sign me up for the book addicts club. Had Bird by Bird recommended, but have never read it. Will need to add it to my list. Your dad’s photos are really cool. Need to file that away as a future homeschool project.

  32. pearlsoftruth

    Beautiful rocking horse… I can just imagine you in that crazed ‘I gotta have it!’ state! What a laugh, because I have been like that on more than one occassion. πŸ™‚

  33. Multiple Mom T

    Jen, I wanted to share that last night, before I went to bed, God and I decided that I would sit down, pray and read my bible at 10am this morning. No ifs, ands, buts or sidetracks. It worked! And it even included reading out loud to my daughter at the end! Thank you for such a great idea!

  34. Jess

    I notice another Anne Lamott book on your list. Last weekend I stumbled across a copy of Traveling Mercies while in a used book shop. I couldn’t recall if it was a book you had recommended but it looked familiar, sounded interesting so I bought it.

    The thing that is strange about Ann Lamott is that she is freakishly readable, yet I do not think I would be friends with her if I actually “knew” her. She is insanely self-involved (so am I, pot calling kettle black here) and has a very abstract and personal interpretation of Christianity that leaves me scratching my head in confusion. And her anger towards her mother and worship of her father really bothers me. She seem to fail to realize that she views her father exactly as her mother did, yet her mother lost him (divorce) and she never did. She should cut her mom some slack.

    Maybe I should just write a review… πŸ™‚

    P.S. – Did I email you those links of Fr. John Riccardo? I am listening to his podcast RCIA series and they are helping me immensely. Just a little update since I have been out of touch b/c of the holidays.

  35. lissla lissar

    I love Bird by Bird. Have you read Operating Instructions, her journal of her son’s first year? I got it out from the library and re-read it endlessly during my son’s first two months. It’s a great book. I’ve quoted her line about her son waking from a nap to every mother I know, and they always dissolve. (paraphrased)

    They go to sleep, and you watch them, radiant and golden and lovely. And then, twenty minutes later, you wake up, g;are, and think, “It’s raising its loathsome reptilian head again.”

    The Seven Storey Mountain was one of the books we read on our way into the Church. Hope you enjoy it. Along with Rome Sweet Home, Orthodoxy (Chesterton), Swimming With Scapulars, and the Catechism.

  36. Candace Jean July 16

    I want a cookie! Only 2 days into the new year of whole food eating and I WANT A COOKIE!! I’ll bet I’m the last post πŸ™‚

  37. Lana

    #6. my husband has recently been more in the atheist camp than the Catholic one and is also into astronomy all of a sudden.
    probably sounds like a weird question, but do you think there’s a connection there? he’s convinced that there are more worlds like ours out there, so we must not be as special as we think we are (that’s a VERY rough summary of his views, btw, but pretty accurate nonetheless).

  38. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    Thanks for all the great comments!

    #6. my husband has recently been more in the atheist camp than the Catholic one and is also into astronomy all of a sudden.
    probably sounds like a weird question, but do you think there’s a connection there?

    I’ve noticed that there often is a connection there. I can kind of see where it comes from. I wrote about it some here if you have any interest.

    Happy New Year, all!

  39. Shannon, Mommy to six

    #4–I had this same sort of experience this year except it was a little tool bench for my 2 year old son. Honestly, I got the last one at the only Toys R Us in the state–an hour away–and they also would not hold the thing long enough for me to get there! By the time I got it in my hands I felt like a raving lunatic!

    Fortunately, he played with it for more than 30 seconds!

    Warm regards,

  40. Joseph

    I noticed Seven Storey Mountain. I need to read that, too – badly. My cousin introduced me to Merton through his “Secular Journal.” He has this entry about Kirkegaard and Abraham (THE Abraham) that blew me away: Basically, that it’s noble to die as a hero or a martyr, but at least you’re honored if you do that; someone like Abraham was called to (and willing to do) something so outrageous (killing his son) that it wouldn’t even be considered noble or heroic. Kirkegaard (and Merton) conclude that Abraham’s is the more noble act of faith. Pretty intense stuff.

    Oh yeah, I introduced your blog to my largely computer illiterate mom, and she wrote the website down on a napkin (her version of “bookmarks”) because she liked it so much.

    – Joe.

  41. abroadermark

    I enjoy your blog – and 7 Quick Takes Friday. Thanks for sharing!

  42. Mominapocket

    Enjoy your blog- hope that I linked to your site properly. Appreciate the honesty of your writings. Nancy

  43. Blair

    left my link! i’m lol about the horse…i do things like that, esp around christmas and birthdays

  44. SearchingWellness

    You have such a good blog. I am looking forward to reading more of it.

  45. Lana

    thanks for taking the time to link to that one, Jen. I had missed it. insightful and thought-provoking, as usual.

  46. Abigail

    Funniest Tale about a PREGNANT mom kicking a rocking horse box across a Toys R Us floor in central Texas. Thanks for making me laugh!


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