Pinterest Round Up

AGOMYR was kind enough to mention that my pins were looking good lately.  Here’s what I’m loving.  Spoiler alert: it’s all the same.  Pretty prints, pretty houses, yummy food, and words written with good handwriting.

cutest.:

chocolate sour cream cake.:

books on top, shelves on the bottom.:

not afraid of color.:

farm life dreams.:

tiiiiiiiiiile.:

cinnamon sugar breakfast puffs.:

 

 

so much.:

The Slow Train* [easy meatball stroganoff]

The (Not So) New Girl is great at reminding me that my baby isn’t on the slow train with regards to whatever skill he hasn’t quite yet mastered, he’s just on his own train. He’ll get where he needs to go in due time.

And I guess I will too? But oh, lately does it feel like I’m on the slow train back to Sunday dinners. I used to love throwing a hunk of meat in the oven for all of Sunday afternoons until it was falling apart, and we were so hungry we’d eat enough to put ourselves in a food coma.

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(I really want this image to rotate, and I’ve spent too much time not getting it to work.)

Enter Design Mom’s easy meatball stroganoff.  The perfect, hearty Sunday dinner, but without all that roasting time. I prepped the sauce during the day, we took Gooplet for a gorgeous winter walk, saw an open house, visited with neighbors, came home to put him to bed, and reheated dinner for ourselves.  Dream day, dream dinner.

To make meatballs for 4 or 6 friends, you will need:

Ingredients
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large onion, diced
1 pound mushrooms (white button or cremini), sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups beef broth
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
One (24 ounce) package frozen meatballs**
1 cup sour cream, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
For serving:
Hot, buttered egg noodles, spaetzle, or rice (we used barley)
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Instructions
1. In a Dutch oven or large 5-6 quart saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Add the onion and let cook, stirring often, until it starts to soften, about 3-5 minutes.
2. Add the mushrooms and season with a little salt. Saute, stirring often, allowing the mushrooms and onions to brown nicely. Remove the onions and mushrooms from the pan. Set aside and keep warm.
3. To the pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and melt. When foaming subsides, add the flour and stir well. Cook the flour, stirring constantly, for 30-60 seconds. Add beef broth. Whisk well to remove any lumps.
4. Bring gravy to a simmer. Add the thyme sprigs to the pan along with the reserved onions and mushrooms.
5. Add the frozen meatballs to the pan. Stir to coat with the sauce. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until meatballs are heated through. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning on the bottom of the pan.
6. Once meatballs have cooked through, stir in 1/2 to 3/4 sour cream, depending on preference. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Spoon the meatballs and sauce over hot noodles, spaetzle, or rice, with remaining sour cream on the side.

*An alternate story to tell with the serving of this dish, was my husband’s commentary that we are a great match because I understand it’s appropriate to serve bacon with meatballs.

**The key to the meatball-finding is to look for beef meatballs that are not Italian season.  The author of the post recommends meatballs from Trader Joes or IKEA.  I can vouch that frozen IKEA meatballs are one of life’s great joys.

Mom Brain [baked pesto rigatoni]

The other day, Wooden Nickels sent me an article, a headline, something, I don’t remember, about how “mom brain” isn’t real.
Hah.
Mom brain is absolutely real.  You know all those studies that show how important sleep is for making you a functional person?  (See here for what is perhaps the most applicable.) Well moms don’t sleep.  Even moms with “good sleepers” don’t sleep because their babies are teething, or have learned to stand and have decided the best time to practice this skill is the middle of the night, or the moms go back to work and upset the balance in which their life was hanging.  And moms of bad sleepers?  Ugh, just come sit by me.  Moms don’t sleep.  And a lack of sleep kills brain cells.
Enter, mom brain.
Mom brain is what allowed me to get entirely through the making of this dish, up to the point I needed to sprinkle the assembled casserole with cheese, and realize I didn’t ever put the basil in the pesto.  And by realize, I simply mean I saw two packages of basil sitting pretty in the drawer in the fridge, and then thought, huh, isn’t basil an essential ingredient in pesto? (Answer: yes!)
Here’s the great news.  Cooking is incredibly forgiving, and I loved this baked pesto rigatoni anyway.
To make a 9×13, or two 8×8 casserole(s), you will need:
For the pasta:
  • 1 lb. rigatoni
  • 2-3 cups chopped heirloom tomatoes
  • ½ cup reserved pasta water
  • ½ cup shredded cheese of choice (I used a mozzarella and provolone blend)
  • pesto (recipe follows)
For the pesto:
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 cup basil (unless you claim mom brain and leave it out)
  • ¾ cup almonds or pine nuts
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup Parmesan or Asiago cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. While the water is boiling, chop up the tomatoes – I just cut the little ones in half. Add the pasta to the water and cook according to package directions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, place all the pesto ingredients in the food processor until smooth. Go ahead and stick a glass measuring cup in that boiling water and pull out 1/2 C, sans pasta, to thin out the sauce a little bit.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the cooked noodles with the chopped tomatoes and pesto. Transfer to a 9×13 baking dish (or two 8x8s if you want to share with someone else) and sprinkle with the cheese. Cover loosely with well-oiled aluminum foil and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Crisp things up by cooking 5 minutes longer without the foil.

I Want to Remember [a winter goopdate]

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I want to remember… how much you love when we roll the red kickball back and forth.  You flap your arms up and down and squeal until I send it back to you.

I want to remember… that you are always in motion.  I can’t take a picture of you that isn’t blurry.

I want to remember… you want to read all the time.  You’ll find a pile of books (we keep one in every room), pick up your favorites, and flip the pages endlessly.

I want to remember… that you have been sick for over a week.  We are all doing the best we can.  Being cooped up in the house is not great for either of us, and we’ve quickly exhaust our favorite toys most days.

I want to remember… the noises you make when your dad goes to get you in the morning.  You are so happy to see him and you babble incessantly while he changes you and gets you ready for the day.

I want to remember… the rhythm of our days.  Breakfast, coffee (oh, how the Starbucks team loves you and is so, so good to you), nap, whatever the day’s activity is, home for lunch and another nap, and playing till we start texting your dad to beg him to come home.

I want to remember… that you don’t like to be pulled apart from me.  Deep down inside, I love this so much.  In the minutiae of our daily lives, I don’t always.  Deep breaths.  You won’t always want to be attached to my right leg.  And I’ll probably miss it when you don’t.

I want to remember… that you’re learning to clap, wave and high-five.  I swear you’re trying to say “Mommy,” “Yes,” and “Again.”

I want to remember… that you love looking at photos.  We have our holiday cards up on the wall, and every time we go up and down the stairs, you have to stop to “talk” to some of our friends.

AGOMEYR [enchilada orzo]

About as many times as I’ve mentioned AGOMYR on this blog, she has mentioned that she doesn’t really put the Y in AGOMYR.  And a couple of weeks ago she proved me right by going and having a kid of her own.  Cue all the frozen meals!
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It’s a little risky making food for AGOMYR, because she’s a bit of a foodie herself.  So, for inspiration, I visited her own Pinterest boards, knowing that was sure to lead me to something exactly right for her.
What I didn’t know was that I would also find a great dinner for myself, my husband, and Gooplet in the process.  I doubled (and tweaked) Damn Delicious’ slow cooker enchilada orzo, so we could enjoy some too.  It’s not a recipe I’d have made otherwise, but thank goodness I did.  Gooplet inhaled it. He couldn’t get enough.
So thank you AGOMYR, and brand new, adorable AGOMEYR (A Glass of Milk’s Even Younger Reader?) for introducing us to what is sure to become a staple in our family.
To make enchilada orzo for 4-6, you will need:
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (10-ounce) can mild enchilada sauce
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth, or more, as needed
  • 1 cup corn kernels, frozen, canned or roasted
  • 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
  • 2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Place the tomatoes, enchilada sauce, chiles, vegetable broth, corn kernels, black beans, salt, and pepper in a pot, and stir to mix everything well.  Turn on the stove, and let the mixture come to a boil.  Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook at least 30 minutes.  Really, cook as long as you want, but keep checking on it every now and again, stirring it and making sure the liquid hasn’t all cooked out.  Be prepared to add more broth if need be.

About 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve add the orzo, and let the mixture continue simmering, uncovered now, for about 10 more minutes.

Remove from heat, and stir in the cream cheese until melted.

Serve, and top with cilantro.

January Reads

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Just Read

The Mothers, by Brit Bennett – This was on so many people’s favorites for the year and I felt very meh about it.  If you asked, I’d tell you it was good, and to read it if you thought you might be interested already.  But I didn’t think the characters had much depth, and while I loved the idea of the church mothers as a chorus in the book, I didn’t think they were played up quite enough either.

Juniper, by Thomas and Kelley French – Oh my goodness gracious, this book.  I loved it.  I was nervous about reading it, having had Gooplet not too, too long ago, and indeed, I found myself SOBBING through parts of it.  But in the good, cathartic sobbing kind of way. The story is gripping, and I was surprised that I found the father’s side of it far more endearing. Highly recommend for anyone, but especially for anyone with a child.

Saving Red, by Sonya Sones – I’ve been reading her since her first book came out. This one was neither her worst nor her best, but it was a quick, mostly enjoyable YA read.

Reading

Two Naomis, by Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich, and Audrey Vernick – It had been so long since I read middle grade fiction, and this one popped up on the Nerdy Book Club’s best of 2016* list.  On my next trip to the library, it was front and center on the new arrivals shelf.  I have impossibly high standards for middle grade fiction (seriously, impossible), and this one is good. I also love how it shows diverse characters without needing to be A BOOK ABOUT DIVERSE CHARACTERS.

Far From the Tree, by Andrew Solomon – I’ve seen this book mentioned in almost all of my favorite parenting and teaching reads (side note, those two genres of books almost always overlap), so I’ve always wanted to read it.  But here’s the thing.  It’s 706 pages!  So, with any luck, you’ll see it in my “Just Read” post by the end of the year.

Want to Read

Wolf Hollow, by Lauren Wolk, because it got a ton of buzz this year, because it just picked up a Newbery Honor, and because it was originally intended as an adult book, and somehow ended up on middle grade shelves.  All in.
*It should be noted that 2016, the year when it wasn’t my job to read middle grade fiction anymore, looks like the best year for middle grade fiction in a long, long time.  I’m eager to read almost every book linked there.

 

2017 Reading Challenge – The (Somewhat Annotated) Plan

In 2015 and 2016, I took the PopSugar Reading Challenge.  But really, I just read what I was going to read anyway, and looked at how the books fit, or didn’t, into the categories.  In 2017, I’m wondering whether a little bit of planning will take me a longer way.

(Also, I read Anne’s post about planning and thought it sounded wise.)
As best as I could, I picked 3 possibilities in each category PopSugar gave me, and had too much fun putting this list together over the last couple weeks of 2016.  Way too much fun.  I combed my Amazon wish list, my own bookshelves, and the titles of a ton of library books I’ve had to return before I could read them (I always take photos and keep them in an album in my phone so I remember to come back to them some day).  I left some categories completely up to Google.  And in the process, of course, my TBR list grew even longer than it already is.  And I grew so excited about where 2017 will take me in my reading life.
There are a lot of serious books on this list.  But there are also some comfort reads.  There are books for adults, for young adults, and for kids, because I read a mix of all three.  There are fiction and non-fiction books.  There are steampunk novels.  I didn’t even know what those were until I pulled this list together.  And there are Amish romances, but I’ll let you keep reading till you get to those.
I tried hard not to include duplicate authors, because although there are some whose backlists I am dying to get through, that’s not what a reading challenge is about.  There are, I believe, three or four exceptions to that self-imposed rule.
And so many of these titles have some sort of note like, “I never would have picked this up, but…” and I think that’s a great thing.
Cheers, dear readers, and of course, happy reading!
A book recommended by a librarian:
I don’t know yet, I’ll have to ask.
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A book that’s been on your TBR list too long:

Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome (Someone very special to me told me this was one of her favorite books TEN YEARS AGO.  It’s time.)
An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green (Haven’t loved anything except The Fault in our Stars, but this one sounds like my kind of thing.)
Quiet, by Susan Cain (Perhaps it will shed some light in what happens in the heads of my favorite introverts–my husband, SCL,and Cari Faye.)

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A book of letters:
Last Days of Summer, by Steve Kluger (Wooden Nickels read this and loved it.)
Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell (I’ve started this a zillion times and never gotten very far.)
Dear Mr. Knightly, by Katherine Reay
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An audiobook:
Hamilton: The Revolution, by Lin Manuel Miranda
In the Country We Love, by Diane Guerrero (Started.  Got distracted, see below.  Need to finish.)
Harry Potter, by JK Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale (Gooplet and I have already listened to the first 2.)
 
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A book written by a person of color:
Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon (My literary internet circle is obsessed with this book.  The new Eleanor and Park?  Have to read.)
Between the World and Me, by Ta Nehisi Coates
Changing my Mind, by Zadie Smith (Have been wanting to try one of hers for a while, and I think I’ll start here.  Ever since I read American Housewife, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, I’m super into collections of essays and short stories.)
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A book with one of seasons in the title:
Thimble Summer, by Elizabeth Enright
Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley (This has nothing to do with autumn.)
The Penderwicks in Spring, by Jeanne Birdsall
 
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A story within a story:
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (I’ve never seen it.  I mean read it.  Both, actually.  I am living in a pop-cultural black hole here, so this is probably the one I should pick.)
The Wrath and the Dawn, by Renee Adieh (Honestly, this doesn’t look like something I’d reach for, but I do know a real live young adult who loved it a lot.  So maybe.  Maybe.)
Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke
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A book with multiple authors:
Two Naomis, by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick (This made The Nerdy Book Club’s list of best middle grade fiction of the year, and I need more middle grade novels in my life.)
Click, by 10 authors!
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
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An espionage thriller:
(This category is so out of my comfort zone, so power to me if I actually get one read. Two possibilities is plenty–I couldn’t find a third I was truly excited about.)
The Chemist, by Stephenie Meyer (I mean, she wrote Twilight, so maybe I’ll like this?)
The Bourne Identity, by Robert Ludlum
 
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A book with a cat on the cover:
Thought for sure I’d be scrambling to find something in this category that excited me, but I want to read all three of these a lot.  Pumped about that.
Maeve’s Times, by Maeve Binchy (Reading Maeve Binchy is like coming home.  I love her.)
Whittington, by Alan Armstrong
Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate
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A book written by an author who uses a pseudonym:
Another category where I couldn’t get excited about a third option.  So two will do.
All the Wrong Questions Series, by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
The Cormoran Strike Series, by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)
Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen (Karen von Blixen-Finecke)
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A best seller in a genre you don’t usually read:
The Martian, by Andy Weir (It’s about time.)
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (I hear it has great 80s references, and that might be what pulls me through.)
Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch (Every time I see this author’s name, I think of Barty Crouch, from Harry Potter. That has nothing to do with this actual book.)
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A book about a person with disability:
The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, by Jonathan Evison (And then I can watch the series on Netflix!)
Say What You Will, by Cammie McGovern
Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Have started it twice.  Sometimes I think that means I should leave well enough alone.  Stop trying to make it happen; it’s not going to happen.  We’ll see.)
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A book involving travel:
The Year of Living Danishly, by Helen Russell (Started it last year and got distracted with other books.  Gotta get back to hygge-ing these chilly months up!)
Notes from a Small Island, by Bill Bryson  (Love his observations on the quirks of daily life.)
The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson (See above.)
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A book with a subtitle:
Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame, by Mara Wilson (I love that she wrote a book.  Hand me Mara over Lauren Graham and Anna Kendrick’s books anyday.)
The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude, by Margaret Visser (Always room for more gratitude.)
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A book published in 2017:
TBD, but I do have This is How it Always Is, by Laurie Frankel, on preorder thanks to the What Should I Read Next podcast, and heard about The Garden of Small Beginnings, by Abbi Waxman, on my beloved From the Front Porch podcast.
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A book involving mythical creature:
A Wind in the Door, by Madeline L’Engle (Pretending that this would be a new one, because I probably read it in 1994.)
Something from The Chronicles of Narnia (I have only read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I’m sure at least one of these has another mythical creature in it.  Or maybe Mr. Tumnus makes another appearance.)
City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare (BookTubers love YA lit, and they overwhelmingly love Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.  Worth a try, perhaps?)
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A book you’ve read before that always makes you smile:
The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin (This book is brilliant.  Last year was the first year in 9 years I haven’t reread it, and I missed it.  And it made me realize it might be my favorite book of all time.)
The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin (I.  Love.  This.  Book.  And it’s in line with much of what I’m looking for in my life in 2017.)
My Father’s Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett
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A book about food:
Only in Naples, by Katherine Wilson (Give me all the foodie memoirs; especially the ones set in Italy.)
Tender at the Bone, by Ruth Reichl (I read her novel this summer, but I know non fiction is her sweet spot.  Pun absolutely intended.)
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A book with career advice:
The Most Important Thing, by Avi (I have this from the library.  I dream of reading all 7 stories in one sitting.  I imagine I’ll sob uncontrollably.)
Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil, by Paul Bloom (In putting this post together, I sought recommendations from everywhere.  So much so that I don’t remember where this one popped up on my radar.  The author is arguing that babies are born with a sense of morality, and even the beginnings of a sense of justice.  Babies?  Really?  I’m in.)
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A book written from a nonhuman perspective:
Pax, by Sarah Pennypacker (Saw this on a lot of “Best of…” lists for 2016, so this should be good.)
A Nest for Celeste, by Henry Cole
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London (Always wish I would read more classics.)
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A steampunk novel:
Had no idea what steampunk even was, and PopSugar realized a lot of people didn’t either, so they gave us this.  All my picks come from their list.)
Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carriger
Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare
Spare and Found Parts, by Sarah Maria Griffin
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A book with a red spine:
Saving Red, by Sonya Sones (I don’t know if this has a red spine, but it has “red” in the title, and red on the cover, and I love Sones’ books, and I was crazy excited to see this new one.)
The Romeo and Juliet Code, by Phoebe Stone
Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton (Started this as soon as it was published and then I stalled out.  Definitely want to finish now that Glennon’s story has a new chapter.)
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A book set in the wilderness:
The Thickety, by J.A. White
The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown (Kidlit that seemed to make a lot of favorite lists in 2016)
To Stay Alive, by Skila Brown (This is a novel, told in verse, about the Donner and Reed parties, on their westward journey.  I love this period of historydeborah
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A book you loved as a child:
Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls (Have not revisited this one since my fourth grade teacher read it aloud and I fell in love with it.  And I never listened during read aloud.)
The Giver, by Lois Lowry (Sigh.  Favorite.)
Matilda, by Roald Dahl (Forever and always.)
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A book written by an author from a country you’ve never visited:
Before We Visit the Goddess, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (Even more so after hearing Anne tell me it’s a novel told through a series of short stories; see Episode 48.)
Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
Forty Rooms, by Olga Grushin (The idea here is that a woman’s life takes place in 40 rooms over the course of her life.  A kitchen where she learned to cook, a dorm room that was the scene of her worst break up, you get the idea.  This book follows a woman through those rooms.  Love that idea, and that perspective.)
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A book with a title that’s a characters name:
Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier
Veronica Mars, by Rob Thomas
Juniper, by Kelley and Thomas French (This one is going to be tough, but the true story sounds incredibly compelling.  This couple–award winning journalists–had a daughter at 23 weeks gestation.  Shivers.)
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A book set during wartime:
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell (I’ve started this one before, but oh, do I struggle with any book that takes longer than about 3 days to read.  But, oh, how I love the movie, in all its grandeur.)
The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
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A book with an unreliable narrator:
This is going to come across snootier than I mean it to sound, but I have read all the Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, Luckiest Girl Alive, insert title with “Girl” in it here that are so popular right now.  So I went in a different direction with this category.
A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess (I don’t know if I can stomach this one, but I’ve always wanted to try the tale.)
Wuthering Heights, by Charlotte Bronte
Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk (Shudders just thinking about it.)
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A book with pictures:
The Man in the Ceiling, by Jules Feiffer
Lumberjanes, vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy, by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, and Brooke Allen (Going with a graphic novel is to be expected here, and this is the series everyone was talking about last summer.)
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A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you:
Ghost, by Jason Reynolds (There is a whole lotta drama about this publishing of this book, that I didn’t realize was happening.)
You Can’t Touch My Hair, by Phoebe Robinson (Yes, I know it’s a series of essays, and thus, she is not really a character.  But I want to read it, and this is my list, so.)
The Thing About Luck, by Cynthia Kadohata (I loved Kira, Kira, and then never read any of her other titles.  This is a past National Book Award winner, so perhaps the next place to go?)
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A book about an interesting woman:
The Sound of Gravel, by Ruth Wariner (In addition to a fascination with Amish culture, see below, I am endlessly intrigued by Mormons and their faith.)
It’s What I Do, by Lynsey Addario (Was eyeing this when it came out, and, like so many other books, it slipped off my radar.  Note to self: read this!)
A Stolen Life, by Jaycee Dugard
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A book set in two time periods:
The Muse, by Jessie Burton
The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton (I’m not entirely sure, but I think all of her books switch between two time periods.  And I’ve been meaning to read one of hers.  She’s one of those authors that Target pretty much discovered, which I think is awesome. Anything that gets people reading is a great thing.  This was her book that sold like hotcakes there.)
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg (I’m not sure this is a true dual timeline novel, but then again, the category doesn’t say a dual timeline novel, does it?  I’ve always wanted to read this tale of life in the south, even more so after I heard someone gush about the way Fannie Flagg writes about food.)
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A book with a month or day of the week in title:
The Wednesday Sisters, by Meg Waite Clayton
Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George
The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim
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A book set in a hotel:
Bellweather Rhapsody, by Kate Racculia
A Room with a View, by E.M. Forster
The Inn at Rose Harbor, by Debbie Macomber (Have never read any of hers and I have a friend who is devouring them.  This looks like such a perfect, frothy, summer read.  Though my life’s dream is to own a bookstore with SCL, running an inn sure sounds charming too, no?)
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A book written by someone you admire:
Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier (This woman took the Babysitters Club Books and turned them into such high-quality graphic novels.  My admiration for her is through the roof.)
A Circle of Quiet, by Madeline L’Engle (Madeline L’Engle, I mean, come on!)
I Thought it Was Just Me, by Brene Brown (I don’t know if I admire Brene Brown, because I’ve never read anything of hers.  A whole lot of the internet admires her, though.  I somehow missed this title, and it sounds like it’s for me.)
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A book becoming movie in 2017:
Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers (Have read the first, but the movie is supposed to be based on more than just that piece of Travers’ series.)
Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett (Loved the Patchett I read this summer.  Bring on more!)
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A book set around a holiday not Christmas:
A lot of what I could find here were mysteries and romance novels.  I don’t really read those, though I’m not opposed to picking up a bodice ripper.  Stay tuned to see where I get with this category.
The Children of Noisy Village, by Astrid Lindgren (Okay, so, yes, it takes place during Christmas, but also, New Year’s, so I’m counting it as another holiday entirely.)
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The first book in series you haven’t read before:
Still Life, by Louise Penny (Chief Inspector Gamache Series)
In the Woods, by Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad Series)
Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House Series)
A book you bought on trip:
I don’t usually buy books on trips.  Stay tuned.
——
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A book recommended by an author you love:
What I Saw and How I Lied, by Judy Blundell (Recommended by Gretchen Rubin on What Should I Read Next, and here.)
Our Town, by Thorton Wilder (R.J. Palacio works this play into her book, Wonder, and she says she thinks every high school should have to put it on.  I don’t need a stronger recommendation than that.)
First Light by Charles Baxter  (Jodi Picoult recommends it here.)
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A bestseller from 2016:
The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
Modern Lovers, by Emma Straub
Tell Me Three Things, by Julie Buxbaum
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A book with a family member term in title:
The Mothers, by Brit Bennett
Confessions of a Slacker Wife, by Muffy Mead Ferro
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A book that takes place over a character’s life span:
Up a Road, Slowly, by Irene Hunt (In my on-going quest to attack and cross things off of every list ever written, I want to read all the Newbery winners.  And this is one that has just never appealed to me.  So 2017, you’re my year!)
Hitty, Her First 100 Years, by Rachel Field (see above comment)
The Social Animal, by David Brooks
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A book about an immigrant or refugee:
The Book of Unknown Americans, by Cristina Henriquez
Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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A book from a genre/sub genre you’ve never heard of:
Okay, so I have heard of this genre.  But I’ve never read anything in it, and thinking about it makes me go, “Wait, what?”  Amish.  Romance.  Yep.  That’s a thing.  How romantic is Amish romance?  Growing up I read one Danielle Steel novel, and one Nora Roberts.  And that’s all the romance I’ve seen.  But Amish culture fascinates me and I have so many questions (and assumptions) about this genre.  So don’t judge me dear readers, but damnit, I’m reading one.  Maybe three!  I imagine I’ll be cracking up the whole time.  Or maybe I’ll love them and never read anything else ever again.  Here are a few that Goodreads deems acceptable.
The Thorn, by Beverly Lewis (I can’t even with that cover.)
The Choice, by Suzanne Woods Fisher
An Amish Buggy Ride, by Sarah Price
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A book with an eccentric character:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz (This made the rounds years ago, when it came out, and I never picked it up.  Rereading the description makes me think there are serious echoes of Holes here, and that’s an all-time fave.)
The Children, by Ann Leary
Look Me in the Eye, by John Elder Robison (This is a memoir, so he’s not exactly a character, but I’ve wanted to read this since it came out…..nine years ago.  Robison was always quirky growing up, and it wasn’t till he was 40 that he was diagnosed with Aspergers.)
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A book that’s more than 800 pages:
Let’s be serious.  I doubt I need even more than one book in this category.
Far From the Tree, by Andrew Solomon
Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
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A book you got from a used book sale:
Island House, by Nancy Thayer
The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann D. Wyss
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A book that’s been mentioned in another book:
All of these are mentioned in The End of Your Life Book Club, which I love, love, loved.  I’d love to make my way through all the books mentioned.
The Color of Water, by James McBride
Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson (I started this book, and it is so stunningly beautiful.  But it’s slow, pretty writing, which doesn’t make for fast reading, so I dropped it.  Need to come back.)
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A book about a difficult topic:
Columbine, by Dave Cullen (Heard about this on an episode of Sorta Awesome, and apparently the story a lot of us know from watching the news unfold in real time, is not the truth of what happened at Columbine.  I’m intrigued.)
The Girls Who Went Away, by Ann Fessler
Global Mom, by Melissa Dalton Bradford
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A book based on mythology:
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, by Rick Riordan (Norse gods!  My people!)
American Gods, by Neil Gaiman (Also, have you seen this?  I couldn’t figure out an empty category in which to place it, so I’ll just leave it here for you.)
The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood (Love the idea here; telling the story of the Odyssey from Penelope’s perspective.)
All pictures are from Amazon

2016 Reading Challenge, an Update

Dear readers, it’s reading week.  Which will likely last well beyond a Monday-Friday’s worth of blog posts.  Books are the best.  Cheers.

You know the deal.  PopSugar posts a reading challenge each year, and I count myself in.  I check in with you all halfway through the year to let you know how I’m doing, and then again at the end of the year.  More on my 2017 reading goals tomorrow.  Here’s how I finished up 2016.   How I didn’t read a single dystopian novel is beyond me.

Penguin English Library.

A book based on a fairy tale

A National Book Award winner – Raymie Nightingale, by Kate DiCamillo (well, it’s a finalist)

A YA Bestseller – With Malice, by Eileen Cook

A book you haven’t read since high school

A book set in your home state

A book translated to English – My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante

A romance set in the future – Happily Ever After, by Kiera Cass

A book set in Europe – Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan

A book that’s under 150 pages

A New York Times bestseller – The Gift of Failure, by Jessica Lahey

A book that’s becoming a movie this year

A book recommended by someone you just met

A self-improvement book –Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes

A book you can finish in a day – Tales from the Back Row, by Amy Odell

A book written by a celebrity – I Feel Bad About my Neck, by Nora Ephron

A political memoir – Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance (well, it’s sort of, unintentionally political right now)

A book at least 100 years older than you

A book that’s more than 600 pages

A book from Oprah’s Book Club – Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton

A science-fiction novel

A book recommended by a family member – Accidental Saints, by Nadia Bolz Weber (recommended by my Pops)

A graphic novel – Dare to Disappoint, by Ozge Samanci

A book that is published in 2016 – When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalinithi

A book with a protagonist who has your occupation – American Housewife, by Helen Ellis

A book that takes place during summer – Summerlost, by Allie Condie

A book and its prequel

A murder mystery – Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty

A book written by a comedian – You’ll Grow Out of It, by Jessi Klein

A dystopian novel

A book with a blue cover – After I Do, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A book of poetry – Booked, by Kwame Alexander

The first book you see in a bookstore – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

A classic from the 20th century – Winnie the Pooh, by A. A. Milne

A book from the library – My Year of Running Dangerously, by Tom Foreman

An autobiography – Life in Motion, by Misty Copeland

A book about a road trip – Love that Boy, by Ron Fournier

A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with – A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park

A satirical book – A Window Opens, by Susan Egan (not true satire, but it pokes some fun at suburban life in all the right places)

A book that takes place on an island – The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin

A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy – Spark Joy, by Marie Kondo

And the stuff I’ve read that doesn’t fit these categories:
Eight Hundred Grapes, by Laura Dave; Peace, Locomotion, by Jacqueline Woodson; Stella by Starlight, by Sharon Draper; Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton; Small Victories, by Anne Lamott; George, by Alex Gino; I Remember Nothing, by Nora Ephron; Sparkly Green Earrings, by Melanie Shankle; Little Victories, by Jason Gay; Maybe in Another Life, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult; The Secrets of Happy Families, by Bruce Feiler; Grace, not Perfection, by Emily Ley; My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Stroud; The Light of the World, by Elizabeth Alexander; This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett; The History of Great Things, by Elizabeth Crane; Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist; The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion;  Delicious, by Ruth Reichl; Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight; Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull; Keep Me Posted, by Lisa Beazley; A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd

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Monday Internet

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Love Anne’s tips on planning when you’re not naturally a planner.  And I am naturally a planner.

This Italian wedding soup looks amazing and like it should be on the January dinner docket, for sure.

Now that December is behind us, I don’t know that you’ll need to gift any picture books anytime soon, but I loved Janssen’s little blurb before her list, about writing dates in books.  I’m in.

Perhaps the reason I was in a reading rut is because I was on a roll in the TV department.  The Affair is back (LOVE, but it took a couple episodes to get rolling), Jane the Virgin is killing it as always, American Housewife is cracking me up, and I started Masters of Sex from season one.  Here’s are two other lists of shows I should be watching.  Should I give Crazy Ex Girlfriend another try?

Joy the Baker made baked brown butter champagne donuts.  I’m not normally a donut kinda girl, but please read the aforementioned sentence.

Habit.  I need some new ones in 2017.  And this is how I can get some good ones going.  Maybe?  Reminder , routine, reward; reminder, routine, reward…

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Cooking for Pops [fesenjan]

When we go to the beach, we take turns cooking.  Most of us make our staples.  Wooden Nickels is always good for mac and cheese, brussels sprouts, and spinach pizza.  My husband grills brats, and there’s always a burger night in there.  But Pops does his own thing every time.  He spends the morning culling AllRecipes* for something that’s just right.  His tastes tend toward the exotic, so we know when he’s cooking we’re not going to end up with another boring casserole.**

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When Pops visited for a weekend, I combed my Pinterest boards to see if there was something worthy of serving him for dinner.  I came across this Persian chicken dish on one of the best food sites around, Simply Recipes, and I knew I was on to something good.  I love making something completely new and different, and while I don’t know whether or not this ended up tasting like a traditional Persian chicken with walnut stew, I do know that it was a great meal, and fun to make.  Because we’re always passing the Gooplet, we shared the responsibilities involved with preparing it, and all sat down to enjoy once he’d gone to bed.

*While at the beach this year, a friend pointed us toward their app, which has a great search tool you can use seriously, or for fun (Give me an appetizer that takes two hours to make, and involves Fruit Loops–ooh, now I want to play Chopped on our next rainy beach day.)
**I say that in jest, dear readers, as I am always, always good for another boring casserole.  They’re perfect at the beach because you prep them in the morning, and cook them in the evening, leaving you multiple hours to spend at the beach.