Monday, January 31, 2011

February 2011 Goals

It's difficult to believe that today is the last day of January. January was a good month, albeit a crazy one. In the space of just a few weeks, I packed my room, moved across the country, unpacked my room, and dove headfirst out of the life of a leisurely-but-stressed-out-grad-student-still-living-at-home into the life of a working-45-hours-per-week-and-attempting-to-be-a-real-adult-er.

Now, more than ever, I'm trying to navigate the territory between the realistic and the ideal, the esoteric and the practical, the rush of every day's commute and the desire for time and space and beauty.

I'm navigating this new journey with a mixture of terror and excitement. I didn't realize how much my goals for January would become a reminder to not just survive but to live this new stage to its fullest, deepest, richest measure.

And here's how the goals for this month went down:

  • I  tackled 5 new recipes. Goal accomplished!
  • The reading goals weren't as successful. I started reading Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, and Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell without finishing any of the other books I'm currently reading. Well, I finished Father Fiction. But that wasn't much of a dent. Really, this just reflects my larger problem of starting projects that I then forget to finish.
  • I did begin a routine of waking up earlier and the benefits have been many.
  • I did not make any cards. However, I remembered to write two thank-you notes and a birthday card, which I think should count for something.
  • January's blog posts number 14. Success!
So Febuary's goals are:

  • Make 5 new recipes
  • Make 5 cards
  • Finish 3 of the books I'm currently reading
  • Create a list of things to accomplish while I'm living in the area and then accomplish 3 of them (more on this later)
  • Write 15 blog posts
Ready, set, go! What are your goals for the month ahead?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Success

Once I felt confident in my ability to work with bread dough, I became a little braver. I decided to try my hand at Mom's cinnamon rolls.

I did a few things a little differently, though.

I halved the recipe, since kneading such a large quantity of dough by hand is a little daunting. However, I did use 3 eggs. I did the initial mixing in the mixer, allowing the ingredients to thoroughly combine. Then I kneaded the dough by hand for about 15 minutes, until the dough was soft and malleable.

I actually started with butter that hadn't thoroughly softened, so combining the filling was initially problematic. To create the filling paste, I cut up the butter into small pieces. Then I dropped the butter into the dry filling ingredients and continued to chop the butter into tiny pieces until the mixture became paste-like. 

Next, I microwaved the mixture for 30 seconds to soften the butter and continued to mix until the paste was created. Since I forgot to halve the filling segment of the recipe, my filling was quite thick. I also used vanilla flavoring rather than almond.  

Cinnamon Rolls


1 tbl. yeast
1/4 cup water
1 cup milk
3 1/2 tbl shortening
1/2 tsp salt
3 3/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs


1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbl cinnamon
1/2 cup softened butter


1/2 tbl. brown sugar
1/3 cup evaporated milk
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Grease a large cookie pan and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Add 1 tbl. yeast to 1/4 cup water. Sprinkle sugar on top and stir. Allow yeast mixture to proof. Scald 1 cup of milk in a small pan. (Tiny bubbles will form around the not allow the milk to burn.) 

Melt shortening into milk then allow mixture to cool. Combine dry ingredients in a mixer. Add eggs. Add proofed yeast mixture and scalded milk mixture.

Knead. (Be careful to clean your surfaces carefully...remember that the dough contains raw eggs.) Let the dough rise in a covered, greased bowl in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

While dough is rising, combine ingredients for filling in a small bowl. After dough has risen, let rest for 10 minutes and then, on a clean, lightly floured surface, stretch into a 9" x 12" shape. Spread filling. Roll dough from the long side. I made 14 rolls. Spread rolls on cookie sheet and let rise again for about 20 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes. (Mine took 25.)

While rolls are baking, combine 1/2 tbl. brown sugar and 1/3 cup evaporated milk in a sauce pan. Dissolve the sugar in the milk (occurs at a low boil). Add 1 tsp vanilla extract. Combine with 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar in a bowl or mixer. Drizzle glaze over rolls immediately after pulling them out of the oven.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Linkage

Well, it's Friday again. Difficult to believe. I'm not going to lie....I'm not sorry to see the weekend.

This week I discovered Chatting at the Sky. The design and photography are beautiful and the writing is fascinating.

I also recently found Reluctant Entertainer. I feel as if I've just begun to scratch the surface of its resources.

I find that pictures of ideal (and idealistic) rooms reminds me to be conscious of the design of my spaces. I find images of well-designed spaces incredibly inspiring. But I'm not the most artistically inclined. I need help when I'm designed...steps, a plan, an instruction manual. That's why I I adore Pottery Barn's design studio.

Working in an office all day forces me to think a great deal about office space. I like this one the best, I think.

For a little deeper food for thought, this article from the Washington Times provides a sobering commentary on the pro-life movement.

What did you read this week?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Of Plans Gone Astray....

Sometimes plans go awry. Yesterday, I had hoped to saunter in the door from work around the usual 7:00, eat a great dinner, do some reading, and maybe whip out a blog post. But those plans changed.

Yesterday a blizzard descended on the city, just hours before the usual traffic rush. Offices let out early in an attempt to help employees get home before the heavy snow hit. But to no avail. The heaviest snow fell between 5:00 and 8:00, when every driver in the metro area seemed to be on the road.

In summary, I spent the hours between 4:30 PM and 12:30 AM with thousands of other cars, slowly making my way home (a mere 12 miles away). So I had plenty of time to think. And ponder. And sigh. And gaze at the clock. And change the radio station.

And I feel like I learned some things.

I learned a lot about perspective. Driving 30 mph on a 50-mph-highway in everyday traffic might seem frustrating, but when one is crawling along at 1 mph, 10 mph starts to look pretty desirable. And while a 45-minute commute that stretches into an hour may be irritating, an hour commute looked like a dream last night at Hour 5.

I learned about patience. Because, for eight long hours, circumstances were firmly beyond my control. I couldn't change the weather or make the traffic move faster or change the road I was on. And I had two choices: I could be panicky, irritated, frustrated, and upset. Or I could just relax, refuse to stress, and accept the inevitable. The former wasn't going to get me home faster. So I worked on doing the latter.

I learned other things too:
  • When the highways and freeways are crawling because of the snow conditions, trying to cut through the backroads of hilly (read: impassable) neighborhoods is not the most effective solution.
  • Conditions like last night bring out the best and worst in people.
  • Chivalry is not dead. Countless men who could have stayed warm inside their homes instead chose to stand out on the roads digging out cars, helping stranded drivers, and directing traffic.
  • It's difficult to gracefully reject the offer of a date from someone who just pushed your car up a hill, but sometimes necessary.
  • Pushing cars up snowy hills is difficult in a skirt and heels, but possible.
When we travel from our door to our office during the winter, sometimes it's easy to ignore the potentially dangerous outdoor conditions. Until sometimes we're faced with the prospect of spending the night on the road. As conditions on the road deteriorated, I was relieved to know that I had the following in my car:
  • A flashlight
  • A car charger for my phone and GPS
  • A full tank of gas
  • Gloves and a coat
However, after last night, there are definitely a couple of things I'm going to add to my car's "winter stockpile":

  • A tow rope
  • Non-perishable food
  • Boots
  • A blanket
What do you keep in your car during the winter in case of an emergency?


Things I am grateful for today:

81. Walking in the door of my house last night at 1:07 AM
82. Relative safety last night amidst major chaos
83. A room-mate who was willing to meet me a mile from our house in the middle of the night in the freezing cold
84. Shovels
85. Four-wheel-drive trucks

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Friday Linkage

    It's finally Friday. I can barely contain my excitement. My weekend plans include cooking and reading. What are you doing this weekend?

    While you're enjoying a (hopefully) relaxing weekend, recovering from a (hopefully) productive week, here's some links to enjoy.

    Michael Hyatt has some convicting words that made me reflect on the way I see people.

    This article by Tony Woodlief was touching. Even though I'm definitely not a parent, his words made me pause and wonder about the people I'm neglecting, the opportunities that I'm missing, the moments I'm living now that I'll regret.

    Poignantly, he says, "Your life stretching out before you holds a series of choices, and what you don’t realize until you are older is how quickly those choices can accumulate and choke off possible futures. If you are not care-filled and prayer-filled and intentional, your days may pile up with more regret than hope."

    Read the article. No pun intended, you certainly won't regret it.

    I am addicted to paper. And books are my oxygen. So this post by Oh So Beautiful Paper did terrible things to my soul. Especially note the copy of Joy of Cooking, whose praises have been recently sung by Rachel.

    So what great articles have you discovered this week?

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Beauty Around Us

    I've been thinking a lot about beauty lately. About creating beauty, about investing in beauty, about carving out a beautiful life. In this crazy, fast-paced, over-booked world, sometimes I forget that beauty matters. I forget that life isn't really just about checklists on a page or statistics or balance sheets or numbers or deadlines.

    But how do I remind myself to create beauty when all I really need to do is type out one more page of double-spaced characters that no one will really ever read again?

    How do I invest in beauty when the more immediate gratification of squeezing out just one more thing on my to-do list is so tempting?

    How do I remember to carve out beauty when, after a full day at work, all I want to do is crash head-first into bed?

    But perhaps even that perspective is wrong. Perhaps compartmentalizing beauty from every other part of life is the problem.

    Maybe a long full day, in which our talents have been used and expanded, during which our brain and heart and muscles have been stretched, at the end of which we are utterly spent, is beautiful.

    Maybe being worn out from work, being drained from caring, being tired from long hours, is a blessing.

    Maybe the very act of labor itself, whether physical, mental, or emotional, is just as beautiful as the resulting product.

    Over Christmas, one evening, I was sitting in our living room watching my dad fill our wood-stove with logs. Dad, who is immensely intelligent and talented, but rarely poetic, suddenly turned to me and said, "Do you want to see beauty, Emily?" Then he pointed to the log.

    It was beautiful because it was producing warmth for others. It was beautiful because it was being spent on others' behalf. It was beautiful because it was giving all it had for something outside of itself.

    So perhaps labor and sweat and emotion and energy and time and talents and the entire process of being poured out into whatever field or place God has placed us are all part of creating beauty. And maybe sometimes the only difference between a hopeless spiraling rut and a meaningful, rich path is this realization.

    Blessings I am grateful for today:

    72. Mom's understanding
    74.The baby voices of my siblings on the phone
    78. A lovely Sunday morning at Eastern Market and brunch at La Pain Quotidien with friends

    Review: Father Fiction by Donald Miller

    My brother, knowing that books are a sure path to my heart, gave me Donald Miller's recent work, Father Fiction (Howard Books, 2010), for Christmas. I read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years early in 2010 and felt like that book played an instrumental role in my year. It seemed fitting, then, to begin 2011 with Father Fiction. I wasn't disappointed.

    Father Fiction seems to specifically target young men who, like Donald Miller, lacked a strong father figure in their youth. With this qualification in mind, I found much of Miller's wisdom in this book both profound and refreshing, regardless of the status of one's parental relationships. With wit and a clear, readable style, Miller practically and candidly advises young Christians on everyday issues like dating, money, peer groups, and work ethic.

    Miller's breakdown of the metaphor of God as a father-figure and Miller's discussions of forgiveness, wisdom, and patience were especially poignant. My only quibble with this book is that, occasionally, Miller's discussions of his issues with his father seem to stray a bit heavily into the "inner-child" territory.

    Overall, though, Miller's approach to issues that young men and women face every day are both surprisingly simple and refreshingly realistic. His examples are poignant and his words are inspiring. Ultimately, Father Fiction helps readers navigate the often tricky path of young adulthood with maturity and grace.

    Favorite quotes from Father Fiction:

    "Relationships, while rewarding, actually make life harder. They will bless your life, but they will bless your life through sacrifice. you are going to get more muscle out of it, and that's the attitude you have to have going into it in the first place."

    "Love acts out of faith,which rarely involves feelings. Love is action; it's deciding something is true and living out that belief."

    "We work to participate in the God life, to imitate God. That's also why we take a Sabbath. Work is one of the ways we engage in life, one of the ways we participate. . . . Work, the idea of work, is God's invention, and it is part of our spirituality to do it."

    "When you forgive, you bear the burden somebody has given you without holding them accountable."

    Miller, Donald. Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation. Howard Books, 2010.

    Image taken from

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Mission: Lasagna

    I am currently on a cooking tear. But the recent changes in my life mean that I only really have to time to savor cooking on the weekends. On the weekends, then, I'm trying to prepare food that I can use and enjoy throughout the week.

    The French Bread was a wonderful example of this. But man cannot live by bread alone. So yesterday, I set out to make one of my favorite meals in the world.

    First I cut the recipe for this wonderful marinara sauce in half. Note: I didn't include meat in this sauce this time.

    Then I started to build my lasagna. I covered the bottom of a 9" x 13" glass baking dish with a layer of sauce. Then I covered the sauce with a layer of lasagna noodles. I spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese on the noodles and then covered the noodles and ricotta cheese with a layer of mozzarella cheese. After creating three sauce/noodles/cheese layers, I added a final layer of sauce and sprinkled Parmesan cheese generously on top.

    I covered the top with foil, sealing the edges tightly. Then I baked it at 400 degrees for 75 minutes. (I checked the lasagna after an hour, testing the texture of the noodles with a fork. Since the noodles seemed a bit stiff still, I let the lasagna cook for another 15 minutes. The cooking time would probably vary between 60 and 90 minutes depending on the oven.)

    My roommates and I tackled the result. The lasagna, paired with white wine, French Bread, Butterfinger ice-cream, and a lot of laughter, was divine. The second positive: lunch and dinner for part of the week is already prepared.

    1 4 lb. bottle of Traditional Prego
    15 oz tomato sauce
    6 oz tomato paste
    1/4 cup sugar
    3/4 cup white wine (The original recipe calls for red wine, which is probably a better choice. I only had white available)
    1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
    1 tbl. dried oregano
    1/2 cup finely chopped onion
    1 finely chopped garlic clove
    1 tbl. olive oil
    2 tsp pepper

    Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a large stock pot until the onions become transparent. Add the remaining ingredients and adjust amounts to taste. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

    Layer sauce, noodles, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese. A regular baking dish should be able to accommodate three layers of each. Cover the result with a final layer of sauce and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.

    Bake at 400 degrees for 60-90 minutes, until noodles reach desired texture. (Test with fork.)

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Friday Linkage

    It's been a while since a Friday linkage post. Here's some fun links for you to enjoy this weekend:

    Seth Godin has fascinating insights on business and life, but I definitely related to this one. I always feel such guilt when I disobey my GPS....

    While you're over at Seth's blog, check out this article as well.

    Don Miller is, as always, just brilliant. He encourages readers to focus on cultivating current opportunities in this pithy article.

    Eat, Drink, Chic is a really beautiful blog. Someday I want to be like it. But for now, I'll just drool over these.

    I'm often guilty of trying to hide a lack of real productivity in my life by just acting "busy". C.J. Mahaney's article was a poignant reminder.

    What did you read this week?

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    Home Is Where the Bread Is

    Home, for me, has always had an intricate connection to food. So when a sudden chain of events transported me away from the Midwest, away from the Michigan woods, away from my family and everything familiar,  to Washington, D.C. amidst a sea of new faces and places, the urge to cook set in immediately.

    At almost every gathering of friends or family, at every holiday meal, acting as indispensable support to the main dish, my mom's French Bread played an iconic role. Mom has baked countless loaves of French Bread over the years. In many ways, the bread encapsulates everything I love and know. And so, at a moment when I needed to hold on to old ties and create new ones, when I needed to both feel the connection to home and forge my own way, I turned to French Bread.

    Following my mom's recipe, I proofed the yeast. I mixed the flour, sugar, and salt. By hand, I kneaded the stiff dusty mixture into soft malleable dough. I held my breath while I waited for it to rise, hoping I hadn't killed the yeast. Finally, I slid the two loaves into the oven.

    A short time later, my roommate and I cut into the soft warm bread. As I quietly savored the familiar taste, a feeling of total satisfaction washed over me. In that warm bread, I knew I held onto a little piece of home.

    French Bread
    2 1/2 cups warm (almost hot) water
    2 tbl. yeast
    2 tbl. melted butter
    2 tbl. sugar (plus an extra sprinkle to proof yeast)
    1 tbl. salt
    7 1/2 cups flour

    To 1 cup of very warm water, add two tbl. of yeast. Sprinkle a little sugar on top and stir. Allow yeast to proof. (It will foam and expand to 1 1/2 -2 cups.) Grease a bowl with butter. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in bowl. Combine melted butter and 1 1/2 cups water. Add to flour mixture. Mix. Add proofed yeast. Mix until doughy. 

    Knead (try to avoid tearing the dough....rather, stretch the dough with the palms of your hands; then turn the dough 90 degrees, flip over, fold, and stretch again) on hard, non-porous surface (a granite counter-top works well) for 15 -20 minutes. Dough should become softer and more malleable as you knead.

    Let the dough rise in a covered bowl in a warm place for 45 minutes. Separate the dough into two equal parts. Gently shape the dough into smooth elongated loaves. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 420 degrees for 25 minutes.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    A Successful Search

    At the beginning of last summer, I began the search for the perfect planner. I looked at dozens of planners of every conceivable size, shape, and color. I even tried designing my own in a binder. The options were endless and ridiculously overwhelming.

    Any system that I looked at would have been acceptable....and none were perfect. Finally, I forcefully narrowed my choices by asking myself one question:

    "What must the planner have? What is the one non-negotiable?"

    Surprisingly, that one simple question solved my dilemma almost instantly.  

    I needed a planner small enough to carry.

    If I didn't have the planner at my fingertips, it was useless. Twelve different kinds of lists and 6" x 6" daily calendar blocks weren't going to help me if they weren't with me.

    Then it dawned on me. The planner I have been using for the past three years fits perfectly in my purse or book bag.

    In an earlier post, I listed three other characteristics that my planner would ideally possess. I realized the planner I've been using has most of these. I've been able to track my expenses on the spreadsheets in the back for three years...why do it differently next year?. There's space in the back for notes, lists, and memos. It's cute and classy.

    Furthermore, Day Runner's standard 3 3/4" x 6 3/4" pages (normally available for about $1.99 at the grocery store) fit perfectly. More writing space would potentially be useful, but I don't think more white space is actually going to make or break my life at this point.

    Suddenly I couldn't remember why I was looking for a new planner in the first place. And so I stopped the frustrating search for a planner, leaving space in my brain for more important things.

    Lesson #1: Sometimes you already own the item for which you're shopping.

    Lesson #2: Sometimes just accepting an immediate and reasonable solution saves a lot of frustration, time, and energy.

    So what are your planning tools for 2011?

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    January 2011 Goals

    Breaking down big goals into smaller, manageable pieces is definitely an important step in actually accomplishing those goals. For instance, attempting to read 101 books is rather intimidating. So is attempting to tackle 101 new recipes. But breaking those goals down takes them from the realm of the ideal and makes them real.

    The blogs Never Niche and Balance and Blueberries have a system that seems to work well. At the beginning of each month, they list their monthly goals. Then, at the end of the month, the bloggers list the goals that were actually accomplished, examine the goals that they failed to achieve, and create a new list of goals for the next month.

    So in the spirit of the New Year, I'm going to see if this system helps me more effectively accomplish my goals. Here are some of my goals for January 2011.
    • Tackle 4 new recipes
    • Finish the three books I'm currently reading as well as another one.
    • Wake up earlier.
    • Make 10 cards.
    • Write 13 blog posts during the month of January.
    Here goes January...

      Blessings I am grateful for today....

      30. Organization
      44. My sister's Christmas gift to me...Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass
      56. Slow, peaceful afternoons
      57. Snow falling slowly and silently from the sky
      58. The sound of a guitar's soft strumming drifting from the music room

        Sunday, January 2, 2011

        101 Books Challenge

        Back in October, I discovered the 101 in 1001 project (full credit for the brilliant 101 in 1001 idea goes to Day Zero) and was completely captivated. Here was a plan both cool and practical. I started tweaking the idea to fit my own needs.

        While Rachel from Balance and Blueberries and I started the 101 Recipes Challenge, I also started compiling a list of 101 books.

        The list for my 101 Books Challenge includes books that I've always wanted to read and never had time to tackle, books that I started and never finished, books recommended by friends and family, books by authors that just seem important, books on business, books on writing, novels, non-fiction, and poetry.

        Essentially, it's a massive random conglomeration of titles that are linked only by their participation in this project. I'll probably drop a few current titles as time goes on and I find other books that I want to add.

        My starting line is a bit fuzzy, but I'm setting an arbitrary goal of August 12, 2013 (a convenient date, since that is also the 101 Recipes Challenge deadline). Join the challenge! (If you would like to be added to the 101 Books Challenge blogroll, e-mail your link to emilyadams829 at hotmail dot com and place a link to this page on your home-page..)

        Any suggestions for my list? What's on your book list?

        The List
        1. 1984 - George Orwell
        2. 4 – Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
        3. 44 Scotland Street - Alexander McCall Smith
        4. 48 Days to the Work You Love – Don Miller
        5. A Chance to Die - The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael - Elisabeth Elliot
        6. A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
        7. A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf
        8. A Room with a View - E.M. Forster
        9. A Streetcar Named Desire - Thornton Wilder
        10. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn -- Betty Smith
        11. An American Childhood – Annie Dillard
        12. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
        13. As I lay dying – William Faulkner
        14. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
        15. At the Back of the North Wind - George MacDonald
        16. Blink – Malcolm Gladwell
        17. Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
        18. City of God by Augustine
        19. Chicago Poems - Carl Sandburg
        20. Confessions by Augustine
        21. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
        22. Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury
        23. Death by Love - Mark Driscoll
        24. Desiring God – John Piper
        25. Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson
        26. Essays of E.B. White - E. B. White
        27. Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
        28. Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography - Hans Christian Anderson
        29. Father Fiction - Donald Miller
        30. Fire by Sebastian Junger
        31. Friends, Lovers, Chocolate -- Alexander McCall Smith
        32. Good to Great- Jim Collins
        33. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinback 
        34. Great Son - Edna Ferber
        35. Hamlet's Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in a Digital Age - William Power
        36. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
        37. Holy the Firm – Annie Dillard
        38. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
        39. Ice Palace - Edna Ferber
        40. In the Grip of Grace - Max Lucado 5/18/11
        41. Ivanhoe - Sir Walter Scott
        42. Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini 6/5/11
        43. Leaves of Grass - Walt Whitman
        44. Let Me Be A Woman- Elisabeth Elliot
        45. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
        46. Linchpin by Seth Godin
        47. Living by Fiction – Annie Dillard
        48. Love is a Wild Assault -- Elithe Hamilton Kirkland
        49. My Name is Asher Lev - Chaim Potok
        50. Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
        51. Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens
        52. No Room at the Inn - Edna Ferber
        53. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
        54. Our Town - Thornton Wilder
        55. Out of the Silent Planet - C.S. Lewis 
        56. Perelandra - C.S. Lewis
        57. Peril at End House - Agatha Christie
        58. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard 4/17/11
        59. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
        60. Renovations of the Heart – Dallas Willard
        61. Rivers to the Sea - Sara Teasdale
        62. Sandition - Jane Austen
        63. Sarah’s Key - Tatiana de Rosney
        64. Saratoga Trunk - Edna Ferber
        65. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey
        66. Silas Mariner- George Eliot
        67. Show Boat - Edna Ferber
        68. Tender is the Night - F. Scott Fitzgerald
        69. The Awakening – Kate Chopin
        70. The Beautiful and the Damned - F. Scott Fitzgerald
        71. The Bridge of San Luis – Thornton Wilder
        72. The Brothers Karamakazov - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
        73. The Forsythe Saga – John Galsworthy
        74. The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand
        75. The Go-Getter - Peter Kyne
        76. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
        77. The Joys of Love - Madeleine L’Engle
        78. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
        79. Wives and Daughters - Elizabeth Gaskell
        80. The Mill on the Floss - George Eliot
        81. The Murder of Roger Ackaroyd by Agatha Christie
        82. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
        83. The Question Behind the Question – John Miller
        84. The Right Attitude to Rain -- Alexander McCall Smith
        85. The Skin of our Teeth – Thonrnton Wilder
        86. The Spirit of the Disciplines –Dallas Willard
        87. The Sunday Philosophy Club - Alexander McCall Smith
        88. Integrity - Henry Cloud
        89. The Writing Life – Annie Dillard
        90. Theodore Rex - Edmund Morris
        91. This Side of Paradise - F. Scott Fitzgerald
        92. Tribes - Seth Godin
        93. Velvet Elvis - Rob Bell
        94. Walden Pond - Henry Thoreau
        95. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
        96. Watership Down - Richard Adams
        97. When I don’t Desire God - John Piper
        98. William and Mary Trilogy, Volume I: I will Maintain - Marjorie Bowen
        99. William and Mary Trilogy, Volume II: Defender of the Faith - Marjorie Bowen
        100. William and Mary Trilogy, Volume III: For God and the King - Marjorie Bowen
        101. Zen in the Art of Writing – Ray Bradbury

        Saturday, January 1, 2011

        Ringing in the New Year

        The last week, that stretch of days between Christmas and New Year's, was filled to overflowing. I spent most of it immersed in friends, family, laughter that echoed late into the night, movies through which nobody could manage to stay awake, skiing until the point of total exhaustion, too much food, and everything else good that happens when burned-out, restless, energetic 18-to-23-year-olds spend time together in the lonely beautiful Michigan forests.

        And today is New Year's Day, the day for planning and resolutions and good intentions. I love planning. I think I'm addicted to it. I don't have all of my plans for the New Year entirely mapped out, but I have made some headway. Details are forthcoming but my goals for 2011 include:

        • Cooking goals
        • Reading goals
        • Financial goals
        Goal-setting is not necessarily the path to a perfect world, though. Intense frustration used to set in when I didn't accomplish specific goals in the expected time-frame. I began trying to accomplish goals for the sake of a sense of completion, regardless of the current relevance of the goal. Letting go of goals became a painful grieving process as my type-A personality fought frantically against the concept of choosing not to finish a project or task.

        I'm slowly learning to use goals to achieve greater productivity while always being aware that there is also a danger in letting my goals control me. We set goals in order to be better stewards of our resources, our time, our money, and our talents. Goal-setting makes us accountable for our energies. But goals are a means to an end, not an end in themselves.

        Schedules exist to keep me on track, to motivate, and to inspire. Lists remind me of my priorities. When those schedules and lists themselves became roadblocks, frustrating obstacles in a world of ever-changing circumstances, the goals need to be modified. The overarching vision is greater productivity, more accomplishments, and less wasted time, not simply a checklist finished for completion's sake.

        So I suppose one of my New Year's resolutions is to more effectively use goals, checklists, schedules, and lists.

        What are your goals for the New Year?