Books & Cookies!


Hey there– It’s reading weather around here– cooler, calling for mugs of tea and books on the couch.  I wonder if you’re in the middle of a good book these days.  What are you reading??!

“Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading.”
– Lena Dunham

If you’re a reader (and I think a lot of you are!), get read to be charmed by Anne Bogel’s new book, I’d Rather Be Reading, the Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life. You’ll see yourself on these pages in chapters like Confess Your Literary Sins or Bookworm Problems (so funny!).
Here’s a quote from Anne:
“It took me thirty-five years to find my twin… We’re no bound by blood or formal ties. We’ve never shared a last name or an address or Thanksgiving dinner. Our twinness is confined to our reading lives: she’s that remarkable reader whose taste bears an astonishing resemblance to my own.”
The good news is that Anne also has a well curated book blog at Modern Mrs. Darcy.  Check it out!!

I discovered Kate Morton this year and am starting to make my way though her engaging stories.  Mostly recently, The House at Riverton.  In this book, is the recounting of a 98 year old woman with the family who lived in the house and the tragic death that shaped their history.  It was written before Downton Abbey but feels very much the same in detail and characters (I wonder if Julian Fellowes read the book!).  The narrator tells the stories of Hannah and Emmeline, sisters, whom she served as a lady’s maid.  The story pulls you along right until the end when the mystery unfolds. Now I’m waiting for her newest book, The Clockmaker’s Daughter!

I have a special affinity for Fatiima MIrza’s book A Place for Us. Rafiq and Lyla are the parents of 3 grown children who were raised in their conservative Muslim family in the Bay Area.  When the oldest daughter marries, the prodigal son, Amar, returns to the family.  Different family members recount incidents in the the growing up years of the children with tenderness and sometimes sorrow.  I loved the parents hearts for their three children and the last section of the book, the father’s recounting of his interactions with his son, had tears streaming down my face.  Beautiful complicated characters and the beautiful telling of one family’s story.

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain describes of the tumultuous love affair and marriage of Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway.  Mostly told from the point of view of Martha, third of Hemingway’s four wives.  She is a writer and journalist and strong personality who comes to love Hemingway when they are both war correspondents, in war torn Madrid, as Franco captures the country.  They made their home together in a writer’s get away in Cuba and travel and write around the world.  Fascinating picture of their relationship– and of course, it sent me to Wikipedia to see home much of the story was actual.  MacLain also wrote The Paris Wife, the telling of Hemingway’s first marriage, also a worthwhile book.

Last month’s book for our was Lit group was Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward.  This story was a difficult one, narrated by sturdy 13 year old Jojo and his drug using mother Leonie.  Living in southern Mississippi with Jojo’s grandparents, they set off on a road trip to collect Jojo’s father who is being released from prison.  The story is populated by Jojo’s younger sister, his steady grandfather, Pop, an ailing grandmother and a pair of ghosts from the past.  The book is at points disturbing and at others hopeful.  Not an easy book, but a worthwhile one.  Winner of the National Book Award.

I’ll end with a sweet story, Dear Mrs. Bird by A J Pearce.  Emmeline is a young woman, living with her best friend Bunty, in war torn London during WWII.  She spends her nights at the phone bank for the Auxilary Fire Services, which responds to nightly bombings.  And by day, she is the assistant to crotchety Mrs. Bird, an advice columnist for a women’s magazine.  When Mrs. Bird discards letters from people who truly need help, Emmy can’t help responding to them.  It’s a story of deep loss and firm loyalties, of the courage of two young women.  I’m not sure why, but this book reminds me of a 1940’s Katherine Hepburn movie– girls with spunk!  Very enjoyable

   To read more book notes (all my books from the the last 3 years)–
Click on Booklist

 

 

And to go with a good afternoon read on the couch, it’s pretty essential to include a mug of hot tea and perhaps a plate of cookies.  Here’s a chewy chocolaty cookie that came out of our kitchen this week.  You might like them along with a good book…

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE OATMEAL COOKIES
3/4 cup butter (1  1/2 stick), room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa*
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup whole oats (uncooked!)
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

With an electric mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar to make a creamy paste.  Then beat in the egg, water and vanilla.  When that’s blended, mix in the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and oats.  And finally beat in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop the batter by large spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray (or has a silpat mat).  Bake them up at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, until they feel firm.  Let them cool a couple minutes on the cookie sheet before you lift them onto a cooking rack.  So chocolaty good!

*I used Hershey’s dark chocolate cocoa

 

And here’s a couple other cookie recipes that could accompany your reading:


Chocolate Toffee Slice and Bake Cookies


Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies


Lemon Nut Shortbread Cookies

 

And to finish up– a few of my favorite pictures of people reading:
     
The Lady in the Polka Dot Pants by Rae Andrews
Self Portrait by Michelle Ranta


Little Girl and her bedtime books– Claire Fletcher


Daniel Gerhartz

   
Yuri Petrovic Kugach
Young Clergyman Reading by Martinus Rorbye


Henry Loved Eating all sorts of books!  Oliver Jeffers

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”
– Henry David Thoreau

The brilliant painting at the top of the post is by Karen Cooper.  thanks.

Recent Reading

Hi Reading Friends– I have one question for you —  What are you reading??    Do you have some recommendations?  I’d love to hear them!  Always looking for worthwhile books to track down and read.

And for you readers:

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”  ― C.S. Lewis
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Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”  ― Lemony Snicket

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  ― Dr. Seuss

I’ve been reading a piles of books lately.  Mostly reading snuggled up against a toddler, who has definite literary tastes. And also some a few books of my own that have been worthwhile.   Here’s a few of our favorites:

There’s been multiple readings of The Lady with the Alligator Purse every day around here.   It’s a sing-along book about a baby who drinks up all the bathwater and eats up all the soap, resulting in visits from the doctor, nurse and, or course, the Lady with the Alligator Purse, who saves the day!  Nadine Westcott has added her lively lovely illustrations to a whole string of children’s songs in books like Miss Mary Mack and Down By the Bay.  All books you’ll read/sing again and again.

Hug by Jez Alborough is also on high demand here.  A baby monkey sees an elephant mom & child giving hugs and it sets him on a search for his own big hug.  Along the way he finds other jungle animals hugging and is about to despair when his Mom appears with– you guessed it– an enormous hug!  Few words, just illustrations tell the story.  Was fun to talk though and the bonus was big hugs from my reading buddy!

Go Dog Go is a classic by P. D. Eastman (but in the Dr. Seuss collection).  It’s just a series of observations about dogs doing crazy things, in the simplest vocabulary and happy illustrations.  That’s why it’s great reading with a toddler and also a wonderful first book for a kindergartner to take on reading on his own.  It’s silly and whimsical and ends with a big dog party!!  Any kid who likes dogs, will like this book.

The Monster At The End of This Book by Jon Stone is the best!  Good old Grover notices from the title that there is a monster at the end of the book.  He spends that next several pages trying to stop you from turning pages so that you will not get to the monster at the end.  It’s funny and interactive and happily (spoiler alert!) the monster at the end is just him–lovable Grover.  I recommend this book be read with that grumbly Grover voice for best effect!!  Lois and I love it– with her stuffed Grover sitting on her lap!

Here’s my reading buddy Little Lois and I reading at the library after Toddler Story Time.

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And happily, I’ve had some time to read books that are not heavily illustrated, aimed at a little more mature audience.

One of those books that sticks with you long after you’ve turned the last page, Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover is a riveting story.  Westover grew up in a large survivalist family near he mountains of Idaho.  Her rigid father ran a junkyard on their land, her mother a mid-wife and herbal healer. Over the years family members suffered gashes, burns, concussions and were just treated at home, the medical world distrusted.  As well, the children did not attend schools and were cut off from the wide world.  Tara suffered from an abusive brother and parents who would not protect her.   When one of Westover’s brothers goes to college, he encourages her to do it as well.  She teaches herself enough to take the ACT and eventually goes/graduates from Brigham Young University–hearing for the first time of the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement.  She continues on to study at Harvard and to earn her PhD from Cambridge.  But through these years she constantly struggles over her relationship with her family, with loyalties and the fears of her childhood at play. A fascinating crazy true story about the ties of family and the power of education.

Eleanor Oliphant is a quirky socially awkward young woman whose days are filled with office work and nights and weekends are spent alone, consuming frozen pizza and vodka.  She makes the acquaintance of Raymond, the IT guy at her work and he gradually becomes the friend she needs.  As you read along, the story of Eleanor’s disturbing childhood becomes apparent.  Raymond’s dogged friendship see’s her through her darkest hours.  Enjoyed this story for the interesting characters that I fell in love with by the end of the book–faithful kind hearted Raymond and courageous Eleanor.

Kate Bowler is a professor Duke Divinity School.  At 35 she has a wonderful husband and a small new son– and is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.  She realizes how much she believed she could control her own life circumstances — that things did happen for a reason.  What results is her journey through involved treatments, surrounded by family and friends.  Her honest, vivid, sometimes funny account is Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved.  Her truths about how to live when death is a near possibility are heartening and ring true.”

And I’ve saved the best for last.  I have to admit to being a huge fan of Shannan Martin, first on her blog and now her Instagram posts that are sweet, funny, honest and open my eyes to the world of need around me.  So when there was an offer to receive an advance copy of her latest book, The Ministry of Ordinary Places, I jumped at the chance!  Shannan tells stories– of people in her neighborhood and how strangers became friends.  She writes about digging in deep with the people around us, about being intrepid in how we love people, about sticking around for the long haul.  My copy is dog eared right and left– and I’m ready to go in and read it for a second time to collect all the thoughts I need to remember for my own care taking of people I love. Loved every well crafted page of this amazing book.  You can find Shannan’s Instagram meditations/warm hearted stories at “Shannanwrites.”  And her book is due out October 9th.

Here’s an excerpt of her writing:
“I’m on a journey toward understanding that my highest calling is to be a woman who loves my neighbor more than I love myself. I’m not very awesome at this yet, but each day is a new opportunity for growth, for guts, for compassion, and for open hands.”

 

For more posts on books worth reading:
Halloween Books Kids Love
Best Thanksgiving Books
Two Books–Two Old Favorites
Three Books–Three Women
A Pair of Good Books
Two Favorite Books

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”   — Jane Austen from Pride and Prejudice

P.S.  Painting at the top is “Great Chapter” by Nancy Chaboun (1954-)
Painitng at the bottom is “Girl Reading” by Edmund Tarbell (1862-1938)

 

Ten Blogging Years


Hello Blog Friends– This August marks my tenth year of typing away on this blog.  Really it’s more of a scrapbook of recipes and thoughts I want to hang on to.

I’ve been thinking for a while that I would use this anniversary to close the site down.  Life is full. And there are so many things I want to give more time to–people we love and projects we never seem to get done!

But when I then I thought about now much I would miss it–especially keeping in touch with old and new blog friends (that means you– Lacey, Mollie, Kat, Marcia, Daisy, Suzanne, Lisa, Mary, Carol, Lilly, Cindy, Brigid, Vero, Ursula and Susie!!)

So I’m cutting back to once a week– less recipes, more of life and faith and family.  I think that will fit just fine.

And to mark the happy event of Ten Blogging Years, I thought I’d link to my favorite posts (just click on the blue letters to link through):

 

FAVORITE RECIPES — DISHES FO FAMILY & FRIENDS


Chocolate Cream Cake with Ganache Frosting


Creamy Lemon Parmesan Chicken


Books & Breakfast– A Morning with Friends


Beef Barley Soup


Swedish Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce


Bacon Ranch Potato Salad


Moroccan Spiced Chicken with Apricot Couscous


Overnight Orange Rolls

 

 

FAVORITE THOUGHTS ON LIFE AND FAITH:


True Home


Waiting


My Notebook


Rethinking Christmas


Enough


Aging Well

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FAVORITE BLOG MEMORIES WITH THE FAMILY:


Christmas With the Crew 2015


Wonderful Woodsy Wisconsin Wedding Weekend


Good Times in Big Bear


Grammy Camp 2017


Cambria with Kids


Sweet Times in San Francisco


On Being A Mom

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FAVORITE BOOK POSTS OVER THE YEARS:

     
     
Booklist Page (Notations of books I’ve read the last 3 years)


Five Favorite Children’s Books!


At Home in the World (& Other Travel Books)

  
Books For A Special Baby

 
  
30 Years of Books (Lit Group favorites)

      
Favorite Books (October 2009)

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FAVORITE TRAVELS FROM HERE TO THERE:


Family Trek Through the Sequoias!


Beautiful Kyoto


Vancouver Days


Wet Market in Lijang China


Lunch in Paris


San Francisco with the Grand-Girls (or Fun in SF with kids!)


Wisconsin Part #2– Off to the North Woods!!

 

Whew! That’s a whole lot of posts.  It wasn’t easy narrowing down to very favorites!!  And if you, by chance, are still reading this overwrought posting– thank you!!  It’s been a joy to send out posts for the last ten years to dear people like you.  I remain thankful.

Two Books –Two Old Favorites

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Hey there– Have you put your feet up lately for a little summery reading??  Here’s a couple older books that I’ve gone back to this summer and thought you’d love them too.

 

Years ago vacationing in England, I saw the “84 Charing Cross Road” movie (starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins) and I’ve had that story on my mind every since.  The book contains a series of letters from a breezy quirky Brooklyn writer and a staid & proper employee of a traditional bookshop at 84 Charing Cross Road, London, starting in 1949.  The long distance friendship grows over many years as books are ordered and gifts and stories are mailed back and forth across the Atlantic.  Short and heart warming, perfect way to spend a summer afternoon.

The Hiding Place is an old favorite I read years ago, then promptly reread it again to my kids.  It’s the actual story of Corrie Ten Boom, who, along with her family, worked with the Dutch underground. During the WWII years hundreds of Jews were hidden in homes, such as the Ten Boom’s.  There are secret codes, late night arrivals, surreptitious radios, and the “Hiding Place” behind a secret wall at the top of the house.  Sadly, Corrie, her father and sister are discovered and the second half of the book tells the amazing stories of God’s care for them as they endure the Ravenbruk concentration camp.

 

P.S. Painting at the top is “Interior with a Woman” by Alexandru Ciucurencu

Two Wonderful Cookbooks

Hi Cooking Friends– I’m guessing that’s most of you.  For my birthday this week two friends gave me cookbooks– and they are the best!  I’ve already made the Moroccan Chicken from one of them and it was so good!  Thought you’d like to see them.

Checked this book out from the New Book shelf at the library.  I started to dog-ear pages (I know– in a library book??!!) of recipes I wanted to try and it was half the book!  So when Jenon dropped it off as a gift I was jumping up and down! Everything is so so beautiful and just unique enough.  Amazing photography and little garnishing touches.

 

And this book I browsed through at a store on vacation– but being the cheapskate (frugal??) person that I am, couldn’t bare to buy it on first acquaintance.  But after I described it to my friend Joy, she scooped it up for me!  Everything in the book is a big board or platter full of ingredients– S’mores Platter, Beach Board, Mediterranean Board…   And I have the Big Board from breakfast a few weeks back to fill up with all these yummy recipes!  Such fun ideas more than recipes!  I think you’d love it!

Books & Breakfast –Morning with Friends

Hi all– This isn’t really a recipe, but an idea that was so much fun, I thought you’d like to know about it.  Saturday morning a tableful of friends came in the door for breakfast and a favorite books “show and tell.”

We started off with a breakfast board down the middle of the table– sort of a help yourself to whatever looks good kind of meal.  Drank mugs of tea and laughed and talked over the week…

Then we all pulled out a short stack of what we’ve been reading lately to recommend to each other.  I typed up the list of books with small descriptions and emailed off the recommendations for everyone to use for future book possibilities.  So fun!  (we all had things to say about each other’s books–adding on movie and podcast ideas).

So here’s the Breakfast Board list –just in case you want to throw one together–
(sort of like a cheese board, but with breakfasty things thrown in!)
Brie
Smoked Gouda
Sliced ham
Rye bread
Baguette
Cranberry walnut bread
Mini blueberry muffins
Hard boiled eggs (salt & pepper)
Pears, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe
Berry jam & orange marmalade, honey
Yogurt
Granola
Almonds
Seedy mustard
(throw on a few flowers for the pretty part)

I got the long board (4′ by 12″) at Home Depot for $8.  Larry sanded and oiled it to make a breakfast worthy serving board.

       
And here’s a handful of the books we talked about:
Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl
Hearing God by Dallas Willard
Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah
A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

Here’s to friends who read and love noisy talks over breakfast!!  Can’t wait to do it again!

Kicking Back with a Couple Good Books

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Hello there Reading Friends–  Sometimes
you just want a good story, something to kick back and escape everything around you.  Sort of Netflix binging for readers.  I’m thinking these two books would fit nicely into that category.  Enjoyed them both.

Seven Days of Us — by Francesca Hornak
When Olivia Birch returns at Christmas from treating an epidemic abroad, the whole Birch family is quarantined for a week in their country house.  So many twists an turns as an unknown family member arrives, a mother guards her secret, sisters clash and a father sees things in a new light.  Couldn’t put it down– sad and endearing and heart warming all the way to the end.

How To Stop Time — by Matt Haig
Tom Hazard looks like an ordinary 41 year old, but actually he was born in the 1500’s.  He’s known, Shakespeare, Captain Cook, F. Scott Fitzgerald…  And he’s been recruited by the Albatross Society, made of people with his same rare condition–and whose motto is “Never Fall in Love” –hold people at arm’s length.   The book skips between the 1500’s and current London, amid Tom’s struggles to find the “normal” life he wants while stuck in fears from the past.  Strong characters and it all wraps up with an exciting ending.

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P.S. Graphic- La Lecture – from parfumdeviolette.centerblog.net