Maybe it's the ice storms we've been having. Maybe it's the new year. Maybe it's the break between semesters at school. All I know is that I have been doing more this month than I have in a long time. I've been cooking like crazy, catching up on my reading, cleaning out the house and generally thinking a lot.

What I've cooked this week: Chocolate chip cookies, homemade broccoli cheddar soup, Italian chicken with wild rice, a creme cheese coffee cake, my incredible Reuben sandwiches, spinach quiche, pumpkin cookies and a huge Mexican feast including fajitas.

Books I've read so far this year (with opinions) : Good Body, by Eve Ensler ( not as good a Vagina Monologues), Horse Play, by someone whose name I can't remember (An amusing quick mindless fiction read.) How it All Vegan and The Garden of Vegan, both by Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer (Cool gals who are really really into the vegan way of life. I didn't read every single recipe, but I did read all of the commentary.) The Gordon Ramsay Biography, by Neil Simpson (Loved it! I have such a crush on Gordon!) Several books by Thich Nhat Hanh, whom I admire greatly! (Little Dog has even been embracing Buddhism and letting Hahn's books guide him.) Women Who Eat, an anthology of essays about food, written by women (Okay book.) Mere Mortal's Guide to Fine Dining (A great book written for the lay person. I didn't think I had much to learn on the subject, but this book taught me a lot.) I've also read all the current issues of my favourite magazines, plus some popular mags while waiting in the doc's office.

Things that have provoked me to opine: The media frenzy and public judgement/speculation about Shawn Hornbeck. (Nobody has the right to judge him.) The announcement of Hillary's candidacy & Republican presidents vs. Democrat ones. (Duh.) People who can't seem to grasp the fact that being parent means modifying your lifestyle. (I won't mention any names.) People who pretend to be something they are not in order to impress someone else. (What work! I am what I am and I don't need anyone else's validation.) The importance of pool safety. (WS? I'm talking to you! Have a damned fence put in by Spring!) How we define conflict and how little of it I have in my life now.

Things I want to do this year: Take Little Dog to the west coast for his first view of the ocean. Finish my degree. Learn more. Eat healthier. Put the crown molding in the kitchen and perhaps lay wood floors in the living room. Pay off the car. Visit Muller in Detroit and drive up to Canada. Volunteer more with Little Dog. Perhaps spend some time in New York over the holidays so I can skate with my kiddo in Rockefeller Center.

That's enough lists for now. Happy New year!