Uncategorized

20 Questions

Today, we’re going to play 20 Questions, which I borrowed from Blair over at Feed the Crime (her answers are here). The cat in the photo is Piglet; he’s one of my two ridiculously patient cats who put up with my daughter’s insane love of dress-up.

Let’s begin!

How do you feel about cliff-hangers?

If they’re at the end of a chapter, cool. If they’re at the end of the book, ALL OF THE SCREAMS.

Hardback or paperback?

If it comes from the library, I prefer hardback, but if I’m buying, I prefer the bigger-sized paperbacks. The smaller ones, like category romance-sized paperbacks, I have a hard time holding open sometimes, but the bigger ones are easier.

Favourite Book?

Oh JEEZ. You can’t ask a book blogger THAT. SO many books, but Till the Stars Fall by Kathleen Gilles Seidel and Back Home by Michelle Magorian top the list.

Least Favourite Book?

Oof. I really didn’t like Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, nor did I enjoy A Passage to India by E.M. Forster. (Not even linking them, that’s how grumpy they made me.)

Love Triangle… yes or no?

That’s a no from me, dawg. I find them kind of icky.

The most recent book you couldn’t finish?

The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer. Right off, the dialogue seemed forced and unnatural to me, and within a few pages, I noped out and moved on to the next book.

A book you’re currently reading?

I’m going to start this really neat little book called Make Do and Mend: Keeping Family and Home Afloat on War Rations (Reproductions of Official Second World War Instruction Leaflets), foreword by Jill Norman. I try to be a good steward of my resources, so this will help, plus I’m fascinated by wartime rationing. After that, it’s The Cider House Rules by John Irving.

The last book you recommended to someone?

Ooh, I’m not actually sure about this!

Oldest book you’ve read (based on publication date)?

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (which is a seriously weird story), published in 1831.

Newest book you’ve read (based on publication date)? 

Duped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married by Abby Ellin, which was published in January of 2019.

Favourite author?

Oh gosh. Christina Lauren, Diane Chamberlain, Jennifer Weiner, Jennifer Crusie, Rainbow Rowell, Stephen King, Emily Giffin, James Michener, Ted Conover, Susane Colasanti, Chris Crutcher, Jon Krakauer, and I’m gonna stop there, because otherwise I’ll be here all day.

Buying books or borrowing them?

I think that answer’s obvious. If I’m not home and I’m not running errands like groceries or driving the kids somewhere, I’m probably at the library. (I’m seriously there an embarrassing amount.)

A book you dislike that everyone else loves?

I really wasn’t a fan of The Plot Against America by Philip Roth, which has almost four stars, so I think that probably counts.

Bookmarks or dog-ears? 

Bookmarks. My library has stacks of them for patrons to grab, so I always have a few floating around the house.

A book you can reread over and over?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald are books that I seem to take away new things each time I read them (which I do, every now and then).

Can you read while listening to music?

Ugh. No. I can read with the TV on and with my daughter playing and running around, but music makes me lose focus.

Multiple POVs or one POV ?

The more, the merrier. I love dual/multiple narratives.

Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days on average?

Depends on what I’ve got going on. On the weekends, my husband and daughter do a lot of projects together, which frees me up to read and I can plow through quite a few books during that time. During the week, I read when I can, which usually means while my daughter watches TV or naps, when I’m waiting in the car to pick my husband or daughter up, etc. Little bits of stolen reading time here and there.

Who do I want to tag?

If you want to do this tag! You’re it. 🙂

Uncategorized

An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace- Tamar Adler

Over the past two years of reading down my Goodreads TBR (it started at a terrifying 332 books; after reading over 200 books and purging about 50, and of course adding a few along the way, it’s now down to a more respectable 65, which is a lot more manageable), one of things I’ve learned about myself is that I enjoy reading books about food. I would have said differently before the start of this project, but a peek through the lists of books I’ve read the past few years says otherwise. I cook almost every night of the week and occasionally at lunchtime as well, so I’m always looking for better, more efficient means of using the resources I have available to me. Thus, when a like-minded friend suggested An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler, I added it to that TBR list.

This book is not so much cookbook as it is the musings of a woman who truly knows her way around food. While there are a handful of “1/4 cup this, 2 T that” type recipes, it’s more a treatise on learning to cook without recipes. Ms. Adler is a proponent of cooking by taste, adding a dash of this and a splash of that (probably olive oil; there’s a lot of olive oil-usage in this book) in order to come up with dinner. No need to buy specialty ingredients; she makes the case that a perfectly acceptable and possibly wonderful meal can be found even when the shelves are looking a bit bare. Almost anything can go into an omelet (and this is something I agree with. I’ve made curry omelets, chili omelets, leftover vegetable omelets…); anything can be mashed and spread on toast; and if it’s edible, it can become a soup of some sort.

This book is probably best read a little at a time, or read for certain chapters (I was a big fan of the chapter titled How to Chase Your Tail, about using up odds and ends and preventing food waste), as reading it straight front to back makes it a bit dry and somewhat overwhelming. She does tend to wax a bit poetic on cooking, turning boiling water and cooking dry beans into subjects worthy of deep contemplation, which isn’t a style I particularly enjoy. If you’re looking for a bit more accessibility when it comes to learning to cook, I would recommend Kathleen Flinn’s The Kitchen Counter Cooking School first; Ms. Flinn rounds up a group of women who can barely boil water and soon has them carving up entire chickens, baking their own bread, and creating gourmet meals from simple ingredients. That book has the immediacy and the friendliness that this one lacks. That’s not to say that An Everlasting Meal isn’t an enjoyable read, but it does skew a bit towards to the more flowery when it comes to food writing. It’s definitely full of inspiration, though, and makes cooking without a recipe seem simple. (I’m not quite a foodie and am not nearly as comfortable as Ms. Adler in cooking without a recipe, but I try, mostly with success!)

It did inspire me to clean out my refrigerator, however! It needed it, and I had a weird, life-stress day on Friday, so I burned off that nervous energy in part by overhauling my refrigerator, an important step in preventing food waste. (The more of your fridge you can’t see, the bigger the chance you’ll let something get away from you.) My fridge is sparkling clean now and I’m ready to create some delicious new dishes out of my fabulously stocked kitchen.

Do you enjoy books about food? How comfortable are you when it comes to creating meals without recipes?

Visit Tamar Adler’s website here.

Follow her on Twitter here.

Uncategorized

Tag: 30 Interesting Questions

It’s a chilly, breezy Saturday in the neighborhood (as evidenced by the cozy little nap my Reba is taking on MY pillow; don’t you wish you could sleep that soundly?), and I’m not much feeling like venturing out, so today I’m borrowing a tag from Sara over at The Bibliophagist (which is a seriously amazing name for a blog!). Here we go!

1. What are your nicknames? What do you prefer to be called?

My husband usually calls me Steph or babe; in my everyday life, I generally prefer Stephanie.

2. How often do you doodle? What do your doodles look like?

Hoooooo boy, I have ZERO art skills. I once drew a horse that my husband thought was supposed to be a dog, and now my horsedog is the stuff of family legends. I don’t doodle all that often because my doodles are worse than stick figures.

3. What do you do if you can’t sleep at night? Do you count sheep? Toss and turn? Try to get up and do something productive?

I’ve spent the better part of my life struggling to fall asleep, but it’s a lot better these days. Listening to podcasts helps put me out (current listen: Book Riot’s All the Books with Liberty and Rebecca). If I truly can’t fall asleep, I get up and read downstairs for a bit.

4. Do people consider you to be talkative or quiet?

Every report card I ever got in school included some version of the phrase, “Stephanie is so quiet!”

5. What makes you cry?

Holy crap, just about everything. My family, books, TV, my cats, stress, frustration, anger, happiness. I’m a crier by nature.

6. What is your biggest pet peeve?

People making more work for other people. Leaving messes, not putting stuff away, asking other people to do things that they could easily do themselves. I worked in retail for years and the people who would treat the employees like their own personal maids and personal shoppers drove. me. NUTS.

7. How many times a day do you look at yourself in the mirror?

Usually only when I’m getting ready or before I go out.

8. What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?

I believed for YEARS that there was a bear loose in our house at night, because I could hear it snarling and growling.

Turns it out was just my father snoring.

9. What is the guilty pleasure you enjoy too much to give up?

Norwegian pop music! I could listen to Bare Min by Morgan Sulele forever- it’s been my ringtone for four years now. His Du Er Så Deilig is super happy-sounding as well. Always puts me in a good mood. 🙂 I have some serious Norway-love going on here!

10. Who performs the most random acts of kindness out of everyone you know?

That would be my mom. She’s always bringing us things, doing nice things for other people simply because she’s kind. She’s good people.

11. How often do you read the newspaper? Which sections?

An actual physical newspaper? Only rarely. My daughter was the kind of toddler who would’ve pulled it apart and eaten the entire thing (I’m not actually joking here…), so we got away from reading newspapers. Occasionally, my mom will bring up a copy of my hometown newspaper for me to read, which I always appreciate.

12. Which animal scares you the most?

I’m like Indiana Jones; I. HATE. SNAKES.

13. Are you more likely to avoid conflict or engage with it?

RUN AWAY!

14. What is the most recent compliment you’ve received?

My dad told me he was proud of me yesterday for something I’ve done, and that felt pretty good to hear. 🙂

15. What question are you tired of hearing?

In no particular order: “Why?” “What’s for dinner?” “Where’s my/Have you seen my ____?” “Can you drive me to ____?” “Can you get me ____?” The life of a stay-at-home mom!

16. What is the strangest thing you have eaten?

Back in my meat-eating days, my then-boyfriend (now husband!) and I traveled to Paris, where he proposed at the top of the Eiffel Tower (swoooooooooon!), and then we took the train to visit his family in Belgium for Christmas. Someone had asked what they were serving for dinner, and one of the items the person responding mentioned was sanglier. I blinked and thought, ‘Wait, isn’t that wild boar?’

It was indeed wild boar, and it was what we had for dinner. 🙂

17. Do you have a whole lot of acquaintances or just a few very close friends?

I’m definitely more in the ‘lots of acquaintances’ group these days, and not many close friends either. I don’t get out much, mostly because I’m always ferrying husband and kids where they need to go!

18. Do you have a catchphrase?

It….probably involves a few swearwords, so I’ll just say yes. 😀

19. What’s your all-time favourite town or city? Why?

Hm. I have places I’ve loved being. Paris. Raleigh, NC. Traverse City, MI. Mystic, CT. I don’t know if any of them are an all-time favorite, but I’ve enjoyed them all.

20. If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to?

Stephanie has always sounded like the name of someone who’s a whole lot more outgoing and extroverted than me! I’ve always figured I should have a quieter name, like Beth. (Of course, she didn’t end up so well in Little Women, soooo…)

21. When was the last time you lied?

I try not to lie, but if I do, it’s usually a lie to mask my anxiety, like, “Oh, that sounds great, I’d love to come!”, when I’d really love to stay home and read and not be around groups of people!

22. What’s something that amazes you?

Honestly? People that live their lives without anxiety. Like, you just wake up every morning and…function? You don’t worry about every little thing? That seriously amazes me, because I have a highlight reel of everything that could possibly go wrong at any given moment running in my head at all times. To not have that must be so fantastic.

23. Would you rather be the first person to explore a planet or be the inventor of a drug that cures a deadly disease?

Space scares the crap out of me (SO much potential for something to go wrong!), so I’d happily stay home and cure something terrible.

24. What is your favourite amateur activity?

I’m not entirely certain what this question means, but I’ll agree with Sara, I enjoy baking, although my creations never look as nice as the ones in the cookbooks or on the blogs. They taste just fine, though, and that’s what counts.

25. What was your first thought when you got up this morning?

It’s usually some form of, “WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY???” Weekday alarm goes off at 5:50 am, and my daughter usually wakes us up around 6:30 am on the weekends. I’m a very tired person.

26. What is your favourite song (at least at the moment)?

Morgan Sulele’s Andre Enn Meg charmed me and made me laugh the other day (it’s one of those songs that when I discovered it, I was cracking up and wanted to share it with everyone I know…but none of my friends or family speak Norwegian, so no one would appreciate it in the same way!).

27. List someone you know and describe them in five words.

My husband is hardworking, intelligent, determined, trustworthy, and awesome. 🙂

28. You can select one person from history and have them truthfully answer one question. Who would you select and what would the question be?

I would love to sit down with Fred Rogers and listen to how he handled the challenging moments of life. He’s one of my personal heroes and I’ve loved everything I’ve ever read about him.

29. Which celebrity or artist do you resemble the most?

I don’t think I resemble anyone at all (other than my dad!), but I’ve had two people tell me I look like Geena Davis, although I’ve never seen that.

30. What do you want me to know?

Books are amazing and life-altering. The Norwegian language is gorgeous and sometimes makes me cry, I find it so beautiful. Beets are disgusting. I hate putting dishes and laundry away. My deepest wish is that someone invents a self-cleaning kitchen and then gives me one immediately.

And that’s it! I’m not going to tag anyone personally, but feel free to steal this, as I love learning about other bloggers. 🙂

Uncategorized

WWW Wednesday, March 13, 2019

I’m participating in WWWWednesdays, hosted by Taking on a World of Words!

From that blog:

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’m currently reading: I just started The Truth Book: Escaping a Childhood of Abuse Among Jehovah’s Witnesses by Joy Castro. It’s a book that’s been hanging out on my TBR list for ages, so I’m glad to finally be tackling this one. I haven’t read too much yet, but so far, Castro’s mother sounds like a nightmare.

What I recently finished: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (reviews to come). Both just utterly blew me away- how could they not, being as deeply honest and heartbreaking as they both were? Heavy reads, but necessary, I think.

What I’ll read next: I’ve got a stack of library books waiting for me on the shelf where I keep them (I lose SO many fewer books this way! No more gasping at that ‘YOUR BOOK IS DUE IN THREE DAYS’ email with, “But I thought I returned that!!!!”, followed by a frantic search. One stack is for stuff I haven’t read; the other stack is for what I’ve finished. Plus it’s right where everyone can see it in the kitchen, so I look super smart with all those books!). I’ve got a manga book whose title escapes me right now- not my usual fare, but one of the tasks for Book Riot’s 2019 Read Harder Challenge is to read a book of manga, so here we are. I’ve got The Cider House Rules by John Irving; I’ve read him in the past and have adored his work, so I’m looking forward to losing myself in one of his worlds again. I have two books about various aspects of food, and a really neat book about mending and repairing things at home during WWII that I can’t wait to get to. I’m excited for what’s to come, literarily speaking!

I’d love to hear what you’re reading! Leave a comment, leave a link, let’s talk about what your reading plans are. Are you searching for your next great read, or do you have a towering stack just waiting for you to make time?