Archive for October, 2007

candycandycandycandycandycandy

October 31, 2007

So big doings tonight. Will has never been trick-or-treating before and last Halloween he wasn’t yet in the candy-eating business, so this year Halloween is emerging of epic proportions. Based on the questions I am getting from him, I picture this endless reel looping through his brain—PEOPLE ARE GOING TO HAND ME CANDY TONIGHT AND I AM GOING TO PUT IT IN MY PUMPKIN AND I AM GOING TO EAT IT—accompanied by doo-wop background singers chanting candycandcandycandycandycandy. Over and over.

Say a prayer for his teachers today—or just make that teachers everywhere!

Here’s a few snaps (and I do mean snaps, eek!) of one of my bumblebees yesterday during the nursery school parade.

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The whole crew took a walk through the village, handing out boxes of raisins to shopkeepers and passers by. They did beautifully staying in a group and on the sidewalk until they spotted a giant leaf pile outside the library—they all broke rank and ran for the leaves en masse. You’ll have to imagine it, since I did not discuss splashing photos of unsuspecting fairies and firefighters on the Internet with their associated parents.

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And, you might ask, what is Will doing walking down the street carrying an armload of leaves?

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“This is so I can jump in them at home!”

Oh.

Happy Halloween, all. Can’t wait to see your photos.

***

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P.S. Are you going to do it? I am, though God help me and my readers, too, after thirty consecutive posts. I think we will be redefining what an actual post means in the next month. Join me?

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ABCs of motherhood

October 30, 2007

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I was tagged by funny supermom Hallie to generate a list of 26 facts about myself using the alphabet, but since A) I’m not THAT interesting and B) ABCs seem to be representative of my parenting life, I thought I would give you the motherhood edition of ABCs.

Do I get to count A and B from my first paragraph? No? Okay, then.

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Henry & Will in June 2007. Last time I got them in the same frame, I think.

My ABCs of motherhood

A is for apple, of course. Haven’t you read ANY alphabet books? Apples are an essential tool in my mothering toolbelt, since I can get Henry to sit in his high chair and gnaw on a peeled apple for a good 20 minutes while I do frivolous things like unload the dishwasher and make dinner. When I hear a thunk and “Uh-oh! Ap-oool!” I know my time is up. And then I have to pick that slimy ball of half-gnawed fruit pulp off the floor. Which wouldn’t be so bad if the floor was, you know, pristine.

B is for bath. Where two dirty boys splash and play and laugh and emerge as slippery, sweet-smelling boys ready for their cozy pajamas. Also, mama’s oasis some nights.

C is for counting, as in “Mom, I counted to eleven-forty-three!” Or alternately, “I’m going to count to three! One, two…” Does anyone ever GET to three?

D is for do you think there will ever be a day when I walk across the kitchen floor without tripping on a toy?

E is for eating, something neither of my children really do, at least at mealtimes. I am sure someday I will look back on this time and laugh as my teenage boys scrounge for food, but for now, I really wish they would EAT something!

F is for Froggy, Will’s in utero nickname, bestowed upon him by his then five-year-old friend Lydia. He has an impressive frog collection to show for it.

G is for “Go!”—one of Henry’s favorite words these days. Whenever we seem to be making a movement towards the door (jackets and shoes appear, diaper bag comes out) he starts running around saying, ” ‘kay, GO!”

H is for my sweet baby Henry who is my hero for weathering the dark storm of his early days. I love you with every bit of my being, and cheer all your daily successes, which are all the sweeter given where you started from.

I is for ice cream and incentives, two things that went hand in hand with Will’s potty training. Whatever works, I say.

J is for the “Just a…” books by Mercer Mayer, favorites in our house.

K is for “Don’t KICK your brother!”

L is for love, love, love my mama job, even if it is sometimes 100% harder than my office job.

M is for “maybe tomorrow,” which feels like my default response some days.

N is for delicious newborns who keep us up at night and have leaky diapers, but enchant us with their addictive baby scent and tiny parts and ensure the future of the human race with their exquisite sweetness.

O is for online, you know THE INTERNET. Something this parent could never do without.

P is for parenting partner. I am so lucky that my boys have a wonderful, loving involved father who would be a better stay-at-home parent than I would be!

Q is for quail, of course. See any alphabet book.

R is for running me ragged, something these two boys are so good at!

S is for smiles, because those sweet childish smiles are reason to LIVE. Nothing like them.

T is for “whoa, Nellie, are we done with this TEETHING thing yet?” Henry is getting through the teething thing much better these days, and is sleeping through the night again. He was on thin ice for a few days, I’ll tell you that!

U is for ultrasound, one of the most exciting events in a pregnant lady’s life. (That, and the pint of ice cream in the freezer.)

V is for the toddler and preschooler point of VIEW. They can make us crazy with their lack of common sense (“traffic? Fun!”) and amaze us with their ability to learn and explore—who knew how fun it could be to pretend your breast pump is a gas station? There is nothing like getting down on the floor and seeing the world through the eyes of these little beings.

W for my beloved first-born William, with the deep, soulful eyes that can make me tear up just looking into them. When you were born I discovered it is possible to love someone with all your heart even before knowing them. Or maybe I just knew you all along.

X is for all the chest x-rays Henry had as a newborn. May you never need another, baby boy!

Y is for “Why, Mommy?”— a question I hear 400 times a day.

Z is for every mom’s emergency dinner, piZZa!

So there you have it. I tag Casey at Moosh in Indy and Christina at Momology, if you so desire to show us YOUR ABCs!

Go Red Sox!

October 29, 2007

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For MY Best Shot Monday, I’m posting two photos that I wish were one, and the thing is, I KNOW it can be fixed in Photoshop. So I am hoping some of my PS gurus out there (Stacy? Christina? Anna Maria?) will know how to do this. If not, just squint your eyes a little and pretend.

Photo#1: Penguin in frame, Will pointing, but I cut window off.

Photo#2: No penguin, Will not pointing, but window is in frame.

See what I mean?

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Hanging with the penguins at the aquarium.

 

As usual, for more Best Shot Monday, go to Picture This.

 

Food Friday: Delicious Nutritious Apple Cake

October 26, 2007

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Okay, not a recent photo, but pretty much what things look like around here between three and six a.m. Don’t cry, Henry, the Red Sox WON!

Dear Sweet Baby Henry,

This waking up and CRYING all night stuff is SERIOUSLY wearing out its welcome. I KNOW, you’re getting four molars and two incisors at once and would gnaw off your own leg if you had the coordination and if it wasn’t encased in fleece footie pajamas. I’m very sorry for your pain and suffering. But hey, at least it isn’t another chest tube. And to that, I am sure you would say, at least they gave me a morphine drip for that. Believe me, Henry, when I tell you this: if it were legally or socially acceptable to administer narcotics in this situation, I would.

Though I might be first on line to get them.

Love,

Mama

***

Since Henry has been teething for, oh, YEARS, he doesn’t eat much, except for the afore-mentioned frozen peas, frozen blueberries and raisins. He does have his mama’s sweet tooth, though, so we can sometimes convince him to eat food in muffin form, which means we make a lot of nutritionally revved up pumpkin muffins and zucchini breads.

So today I present you with this: a great apple snack cake, modified to have some whole grain nutrition as well. This recipe came from a family member researching recipes for me to eat when Henry was dairy/soy/egg allergic—it is dairy and egg free and very low in fat, but don’t let that scare you away, it is completely delicious and still is a staple recipe for us. This was Henry’s first birthday cake, and many of the grownups chose this over the buttercream frosted inchworm—it is THAT good. Thanks Roxy, and thanks Sally for the sugar modification tip!

Delicious Nutritious Apple Cinnamon Cake

1/3 cup canola or safflower oil

2 cups sugar (I use about 1 1/4 cups and it is just as good)

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
(I use King Arthur’s White Wheat instead–or you can use any whole-wheat pastry flour. I also add about ¼ cup of wheat germ or up to 1/3 cup chopped up rolled oats (put in the food processor) to increase the nutrient value.)

1½ teaspoons baking soda

2½ teaspoons baking powder

1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon allspice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3-4 tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped (approximately 4 cups of apple)

____________________________________________________________________

1. Preheat oven to 350, grease and lightly flour 12-cup Bundt pan.

2. In a large bowl, with a wooden spoon, stir in the following ingredients one at a time:
oil, sugar, applesauce, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and vanilla, then fold in chopped apples one cup at a time until completely mixed. The batter will be VERY thick.

3. Spoon out batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until browned on top and toothpick in center comes out clean.

4. Remove from oven, cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn onto plate.

Variations:

  • For a less moist cake, use ¾ cup applesauce instead of one cup.
  • You can also add ½ cup of nuts and/or ½ cup raisins.
  • To eliminate the refined sugar, use 1 cup white grape juice frozen concentrate and reduce applesauce to 3/4 cup.
  • Makes delicious muffins as well!

P.S. Trying to sell your home? Bake this before an open house—you won’t believe how good your house will smell!

Bubbie the Cat as muse

October 24, 2007

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Bubbie the cat, begging for mercy from Henry.

After visiting friends in Maine with a very patient cat and dog, Henry and Will are OBSESSED with cats and dogs, especially Henry. Whenever Henry sees a cat now, of any color, he shouts, “Bubbie!” (Buddy was the cat that allowed him to yank on his tail for days on end.)

And we have Buddy to thank for the inspiration for the first two-word sentence he created on his own. (Henry already says things like “Hi, Daddy” and “Sit down!” mostly because he hears them so much, especially the latter. Like when he is walking on the couch.)

So poor Buddy was up on a windowsill, minding his own cat business and seeking a brief respite from the repeated tail yankings. Henry spots Buddy, points up at him and delivers, in an impossibly imperious tone and at the top of his lungs, “Bubbie! Down!”

Brilliant, isn’t he?!

Buddy was pretty brilliant, too, because he stayed just where he was.

***

So I have this week’s assignment for photo class to post, and again, I would LOVE your critiques. The assignment was to shoot, in extreme close up, baby and kid parts (hands, feet, etc.) or as the instructor describes it, babies as botanicals.

I thought it would be easy compared to getting eye contact and laughter, but it was harder than I thought.

Or my kids just move too much. Have at it, and thank you!

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Henry, age 16 months.

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Tommy, age 8 months.

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Anna, age two weeks.

 (And some of you asked about the class, it is indeed an online course, email me and I will give you the details!)

Lazy Crazy Hazy Days of Summer

October 22, 2007

What was all that forlorn, gather-roses-while-ye may stuff I was saying back in Sept about the end of summer? Because it is October 22, and here in New England I’m drinking iced coffee, wearing a short skirt with bare legs (hello, pervy Googlers, if you’re seeking Britney, she’s not here.), and I had to dig a pair of shorts out of the BABY CLOTHES TO PASS ON box for Henry, since I had already packed away nearly all of his summer clothes. And they are kind of hot pants (again, Googlers, go home) on him, since he is getting so tall these days. And did I mention my HAIR in the humidity last Friday? Eeek!

But STILL! You will not hear me complain about nearly 80-degree weather in late October! Never! The only thing I will complain about is that today is a work day, because NO ONE SHOULD BE WORKING INSIDE TODAY. Hear that, presidential candidates? No Work on Top Ten Weather Days of the Year? Now that is an issue I could get behind.

But, alas, I AM working today, so I leave you to return to my duties, but not before sharing my Best Shot Monday. This is my lovely guest blogger Maria and her charming young son at eight months. Every mom should have a photo like this with her baby!

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For more photos like the one above, click here and for more Best Shot Monday, go to Picture This.

And welcome to my new commenters, including some of my dear friends that have recently posted their first comment, I love it. Keep them coming!

Food Friday: Ode to a Popover

October 19, 2007

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The Bubbles over Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine. As seen from the lawn of Jordan Pond House.

During our visit to Maine last week, we went to one of our usual haunts, Jordan Pond House, in Acadia National Park. Besides just being a place that sells really good popovers in a gorgeous setting with a tons of amazing, mountainous hiking trails nearby, it is a special place to us because of our long history with it. Two of my best college friends worked there during the summer for years and lived in the dorms, (kind of a Kellerman’s/Dirty Dancing feel, complete with variety show), and my sister spent some time working at the gift shop there.

For members of our group it has witnessed birthdays, first dates, first encounters, anniversaries, special reunions, engagements, baby showers and bridal showers, all served with (many) steaming popovers, doused in butter and strawberry jam.

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Marie’s bridal shower, 2004

(Yes, that’s me, 34 weeks pregnant with Will in the giant flowered dress, about to deliver, but not before I wore it to Amily’s wedding in Maine two weeks later. How did I not have that kid in Maine?)

It was the first place I expensed a meal ( I was actually in the area for work at one of my first jobs out of college!). It is a place that is framed in all the glory of Maine’s beauty, spring, summer and fall. Several of us have had the delights of seeing our children come to enjoy the menu at Jordan Pond, though I keep the lobster stew to myself. All that cream, butter and fresh Maine lobster meat can’t possibly be good for growing kids.

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Will eating popovers on the lawn, October 2007. It was 82 degrees out and need I say, GORGEOUS.

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Henry having his very first popover at Jordan Pond. He threw it on the ground a minute later, because it wasn’t a frozen pea, blueberry or raisin.
I’m considering DNA testing to see if this is really my child.

I highly recommend adding a visit to Acadia National Park—and a stop at Jordan Pond House for tea and popovers—to your life list. Until then, or to tide you over to your next one, I present to you the ACTUAL recipe for:

Jordan Pond Popovers

The recipe notes that a popover pan plus convection oven are recommended but not required.

2 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

speck of baking soda (thats what it says!)

Preheat over to 425 degrees. Beat the eggs in a mixer at high speed until lemon colored (two-three minutes). On slowest speed, add very slowly one half cup of milk, beat until well mixed. Add dry ingredients slowly while mixer is on low speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl, turn the mixer to medium speed and add the remaining milk; beat two minutes. Turn to high speed and beat five-seven minutes.

Batter should be smooth and the thickness of heavy cream. Pour batter through a strainer and into well-greased muffin tins, custard cups or popover tins. If a muffin tin is used, fill the end cups only and fill them to the top if you wish large, high popovers. Bake on middle shelf of overn at 425 for first 15 minutes. Without opening the oven, reduce temperature to 350 and bake fifteen to twenty minutes longer. They are best when served at once with butter and jam, but may be kept in the over for an additional four to five minutes. Yield—six large popovers.

Enjoy! And then go there next season to see how yours compare.

Be careful what you wish for

October 18, 2007

 

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So a few weeks ago, I was signing “PLEASE!” like a madwoman before I would give Henry one of the three foods that he will eat (Frozen blueberries, frozen peas and raisins. Malnutrition, I’m talking to YOU!)

I had seen him do it once or twice (small circles on the upper chest), so I knew he had it in him. I withheld his blueberries long enough to get his attention, and finally, in a bored, annoyed, imperious tone that he could only have learned from my 13-year-old self, he gave me the toddler equivalent of an eye roll and said, “PLEEEEEASE!”

Well, now I’ve done it. Because there is no sweet tone to this please. He delivers it ALL THE TIME now with a short, choppy, impatient tone, usually when he wants the butcher knife or the plastic grocery bags or the exposed wires or what have you. PLEASE! He’s getting better at the eye roll, too. Anyone having better luck than me with baby signs?

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***

So today you get kid photos, but these were taken with specific purpose. I’m taking a photography class on photographing children, and really enjoying it. I was lucky to have a wide array of amazing, cooperative subjects to work on while we were in Maine and Vermont, so today I post my homework for Lesson #1, on getting children to make eye contact, look directly at you and laugh. Harder than you would think.

My own children are completely blind to me and any kind of photo trick I can dream up, so I am going to be pounding the pavement looking for subjects over the next seven weeks. If you live near me, PLEASE help me out!

So we had to upload three sets of photos, before and afters:

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Lydia, before and after

 

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Jack, before and after (and probably before and after the promise of chocolate)

 

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Caroline, before and after

 

So there you have it. My critique included notes that my white balance is off (need to learn more about different WB settings) and they are too contrasty, both of which I agree with. Photo folks, any other critiques? I mean it, I LIKE hearing what it wrong with the photos—I know the KIDS are gorgeous. 🙂

 

And this fits perfectly with today’s Thursday Theme at Picture This, STAR! Aren’t they stars? Oh, and Tracey at Picture This is a star, see the fun ad her family is in over at Picture This!

Martha, Martha, Martha

October 17, 2007

So my professional cook college friend is in New York this week for her birthday, on a delicious tour of New York eateries, like Tom Calicchio of Top Chef’s Craftsteak. Yum.

But this morning, on her actual birthday, she and her girlfriend are part of the studio audience for the taping of the Martha Stewart Show, how fun is that!

So since it is kind of a Martha Stewart day and I promised you photos from my trip (And trust me, you don’t want them all at once—leaves! kids! leaves! kids!), here are a few snaps from last week’s farmers’ market in Bar Harbor, Maine, where Martha was filming a segment of her TV show.

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Martha fans may recognize, from left to right, Stewart pooches Francesca, Paw-Paw and Sharkey. Will (that’s my boy!) can name all of Martha’s dogs, and likes Sharkey and Paw-Paw best, Sharkey because of his name, and Paw-Paw “because he looks like a lion.”

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Here’s Martha doing a segment on the Smith Family Organic Dairy Farm. We LOVE their yogurt. Try it if you are in the area.

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But this was my favorite part of the celebrity sighting—I just knew she would be a Canon girl. Help me out, photo geeks, is that a 5D with a battery grip or a “1D Mark-whatever-I’m-a-billionaire-so-I-can-buy-a-pro-camera-for-fun?”

And just because a few of you asked about foliage, here’s a little something to tide you over until I get my photos up. I know absolutely NOTHING about taking landscapes and nature photos, so just a snap shot, but you get the idea. Leaves! Kids tomorrow.

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There’s no place like home

October 15, 2007

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Best Shot Monday

Johnson’s Orchard, Hancock County, Maine

I’m back! What a great week we had in Maine and Vermont, with wonderful visits with friends and family, mostly wonderful weather, unbelievably perfect foliage and almost perfectly wonderful boys. Oh, and I had more than enough fleece. And I LOVED my guest bloggers, weren’t they wonderful? I have some rereading and commenting to do for sure. Thank you, wonderful blogsitters!

But Internets, I missed you so! Can’t wait to check in on all of you, I see blog entry after blog entry popping up in my Google reader, and I need to spend some time chasing you like wayward chickens. While doing laundry and catching up at work and going to parent-teacher conferences and figuring out what we will eat for dinner and other decidedly NON-VACATION-LIKE activities. Sigh.

So, the stories and photos will have to wait for another day, but I will leave you with a question.

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Are Frog & Toad actually supposed to be a gay couple in the way that Ernie and Bert expand the Sesame Street definition of diversity with their oft-discussed sexual orientation? Or did I just spend way too much time in the car last week listening to kids-books-on-tape narrative like this: “Frog and Toad are friends. They spend lots of time together doing things that make them happy. They like to bake cookies, keep a clean house and walk in the woods together.”

Just wondering. And Internet, I figured you would know.

Click here for more Best Shot Monday photos!

Why I Love Anna

October 12, 2007

Guest Blogger # 6: Jess

Because Anna makes these . . .

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Apricot Buttermilk Twilight Scones

2 c. dried apricots
4-8 T. honey
2 two-inch strips lemon peel
4 T. lemon juice

Heat above slowly on low heat until apricots are soft (about 10 min.)

3 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 STICKS BUTTER!!!! (room temperature)
1/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. buttermilk

Beat butter until creamy, add sugar, beat til fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Add the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk, then add the cooked apricots, mix. Dollop onto a cookie sheet like big cookies. Refrigerate 1 hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, and then lower oven temp to finish at 325 for 10 minutes.

Ok, so this is not the only reason I love Anna, but you know lots of others by now.

I make these scones for others now, and it makes them love me. So it’s really a selfish thing.

Try it . . . bring them to someone in need (new baby, sick, etc.) and they will love you.

And now, I love Anna because of Hank & Willie, the blog! Thank you Anna, for inviting me to guest blog.

Jess

***

From Anna:

I’ve long been a food fiend. I was probably around 11 when I learned to make (grainy, sugary) chocolate fudge, and I knew I was hooked when I bemoaned my lack of a candy thermometer. I’ve worked for caterers. I’ve served dinner to Martha Stewart in her home. More than once. I edited a cookbook. I have a collection of more than 100 cookbooks. I love food blogs. I click through epicurious.com just for fun. And while my life today is such that you won’t find an original meal on the table every night, I’m still a food fiend.

Which means that Fridays here at Hank and Willie are going to be Food Fridays. Food talk, recipes, etc. Got something to share for Food Fridays? Email me at hankandwillie AT gmail.com. I have AMAZING cooks in my circle of friends and family, and lucky you, they will be sharing their secrets here if I have anything to say about it. This is just the beginning.

Thanks Jess, and thanks to all my WONDERFUL guest bloggers this week! Weren’t they fantastic? I should go away more often, you’d have more interesting material to read. It’s been a wonderful week of vacation, and I’ll see you next week.

Anna

So bad it’s good

October 11, 2007

Greetings, bloggers! I was surprised and flattered when Anna asked me to entertain you all for a day this week while she is on vacation. I don’t have a blog, and as far as I know, she hasn’t seen too much of my writing. But that’s just one more great thing about Anna, she is always willing to take a chance and try new things. Has she written here about the time she swam with some Beluga whales in the aquarium tank?

Anyway, my name is Sarah, and I met Anna through my husband, Rush. You have probably seen me commenting here under my initials, sdh, and passing off my husband’s Not-a-Blog as my own.
I knew Anna and I would be great friends when I found out that she had the 2002 MTV “True Life: I’m Getting Married” episode saved on her Tivo for, like, three years. In addition to loving all things wedding related, Anna and I both have an appreciation for some so-bad-it’s-good trashy TV. For those of you who have not seen this episode, hopefully MTV will replay it again someday. I don’t think it’s been on since You Tube has been around, because I have been looking for days all over the internet for a clip to show you here. A full recap would be too long, but the highlight of the show involves a groom who has just spent $48,000 on his wedding, in a white (!) tuxedo running through the streets of Staten Island screaming at the limo driver who is over an hour late, threatening to cut, gut and hunt him down and ruin his business. I’ll just leave you with that little teaser.

When Anna invited me to guest blog at Hank and Willie, she suggested that, as a librarian, I might give you all some good book recommendations. Well, I am embarrassed to admit that my current pleasure reading is directly correlated to my aforementioned love of trashy TV. Being an academic librarian in one of the world’s better known bastions of higher learning means that all day, every work day, I am surrounded by important people and even more important works of literature. When I get home, or when it’s a slow night at the reference desk, a little mindless fluff is all I am looking for.

I was recently surprised to discover that my library’s collection contains the series of teen novels that have spawned one of this season’s newest and trashiest shows — Gossip Girl. In the grand tradition of teen high school dramas, the series pits the haves vs. the have-nots — or in this case it’s really just the haves and the have-less, because all the kids are private school students on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

I have never been able to resist the pull of the teen dramas. I somehow convinced my parents to let me sleep over my best friend’s house on a school night in 7th grade so that we could watch the series premiere of Beverly Hills 90210 together. My friends and I collected and traded all of the Sweet Valley High books. In college, I spent my Wednesday nights in my friend M’s dorm room watching Dawson’s Creek instead of hitting the frat parties. I cried a tiny tear last year when The O.C. was canceled. But Gossip Girl may be my favorite yet. So far, the books are better, but then again they always are.