Janssen

Yes, Janssen is my real name. I live in Austin, Texas, where I revel in the warm weather year-round. I used to be an elementary school librarian in Boston; now I stay home with my toddler daughter, Ella, with another little girl on the way at the end of the year. I cook a lot and like to pretend that I'm crafty.

Considering What Unites Us

While I read Alex George's A Good American I thought a lot about what it means to belong -- to a church, a town, a country, a family. Frederick didn't belong to Jette's social strata, so they had to leave their homeland in order to be together. When they reach America, they do not end up in the town they intended to settle in, but they put down roots there....more
I think one of the best things about the internet is the opportunity to be part of different ...more

The Redemptive Power of Song

We've discussed how music plays a big role in Alex George's A Good American when we talked about how he described Jette's life as an opera. It's more than that the family just liked music, it was woven into the fabric of their lives. It was what they used to learn about themselves and about life. ...more
I am always cheered up by Michael Buble.more

Is Your Life an Opera?

In Alex George's A Good American music is important to the lives of the characters and is integral to the plot. Jette and Frederick meet when he serenades her in a park. They find help in New Orleans from someone that Frederick met through music. This same man will come back into their lives and greatly impact their future. Frederick and Jette's sons and grandsons are all singers....more
I just want the dialogue in my life to be as snappy as Gilmore Girls. Is that too much to ask?more

Finding Beauty in a Harsh Existence

I spent a lot of time while reading Lisa Gardner's newest book, Touch and Go, trying to figure out Libby. She was broken but she also showed a resilience and strength that surprised me, as I believe it did her kidnappers. I appreciated the glimpses of her past that we received, particularly the one below:...more
i was just thinking today as I was driving around how pretty Texas is even in the winter, when ...more

Would You Maim a Buddy?

Now, hold on. I don't mean that the way it sounds, I promise! I like to read the author's notes and acknowledgements in books and Lisa Gardner's notes for Touch and Go were fascinating. I loved finding out how many characters in the book were named after real people....more
I love this! I think my brother would get a huge kick out of this. He'd probably enjoy being an ...more

Gastronomic Mosaics & Culinary Road Maps

Food quickly becomes important to the story in Alex George's A Good American. Before the Meisenheimers ever open the restaurant, Jette finds herself homesick. She turns to the meals she ate in her homeland for comfort. She didn't have recipes passed down from her mother or even a cookbook to turn to. Through a process of trial and error, she made her way through the food in memories until they existed on her table. ...more
Yule Log cakes at Christmas, made by my dad. Glazed donuts in the early mornings with my mom. ...more

Knowing Isn't Always Enough

In Lisa Gardner's new thriller, Touch and Go, the characters really knew better than to do many of things they did. The kidnappers knew that kidnapping a whole family was wrong. Libby knew taking drugs to numb the pain wasn't a good thing. Knowing something is right isn't always enough....more
This reminds me of Gretchen Rubin's motto to "Be Gretchen." It's a tricky balance to remain true ...more

Pain Has a Flavor

"Here is something I learned when I was eleven years old: Pain has a flavor. The question is, what does it taste like to you?" ...more
I think I associate taste with sickness more than pain - there are foods I cannot eat ...more

Is My Willpower Challenge Over Now?

When we first starting talking about Kelly McGonigal's book The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It, I was intrigued but I wasn't sure how I'd feel about actually doing my willpower challenge. What would I learn? Would be be scary? What if I failed? Well, I've learned and I've struggled. Does that mean I'm done now? ...more
I think some challenges are definitely more difficult to overcome than others. But I do think ...more

Discovering My Challenge Within My Willpower Challenge

I have to say that my willpower challenge is still going well. If I learned anything at all from Kelly McGonigal's The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It it's that paying attention to why you are -- or are not -- doing something is really important....more
I think our misconceptions about willpower (like she talked about in the book) take over even ...more