Saturday, October 31, 2015

Weekend Cooking: Butternut Squash Quinoa Casserole

Pin It and Do It is over, but I tried one more recipe that deserves its own post.

I enjoy vegetarian meals, but dinner is not complete without meat (or poultry or fish) for my husband. An ideal vegetarian dish is one I can enjoy as a main course and serve to him as a side. Butternut Squash Quinoa Casserole is that recipe.

I followed the recipe exactly as written using chicken broth, organic skim milk, and medium (as opposed to mild)  Gruyere cheese.

And talk about delicious... this is comfort food to rival the richest macaroni and cheese, but so much more healthful.

Hot from the oven

... and on my plate.

What is your favorite meatless main course?

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Friday, October 30, 2015

I'll Keep Blogging...

I'd been reading book blogs for a year or two before it hit... that overwhelming urge to join the conversation. I clicked the publish button at Lakeside Musing for the first time back in October 2008. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and never really expected to be at it this long. So much has changed since then... the blogosphere is a different place. People have come and gone - some tragically, others have faded away. And along the way, I've made some wonderful friends.

My blogging mojo has ebbed and flowed. Lately I've lost my enthusiasm for writing reviews and it seems there is never enough time to comment on all the blogs I'd like....But oh, how I've enjoyed twitter these last few weeks.

Our #6Barsets group (we're reading Trollope's Barsetshire Chronicles this year) grew for The Small House at Allington. Impromptu chats sprang up on twitter at odd hours of the day and night. While it's a challenge to discuss a book in depth in 140 characters or less, the immediacy of it all was such fun. I'm practically counting the hours until we begin The Last Chronicle of Barset.

And as we chatted about Trollope, I began to see this blog in a new light.

When I stopped accepting review books (with occasional exceptions) and participating in blog tours, all obligation disappeared. Any pressures or deadlines are totally self-imposed.

It also struck me that main reason I am still here is because I enjoy the company of bookish friends... I don't need to read a certain number of books per year or write 'x' number of posts per week. I am here to engage with other readers.  I am here to participate in read-alongs, events (it's almost Nonfiction November), and The Classics Club. I am here to continue the conversation on twitter and share photos on instagram.

Lakeside Musing is my home base on our literary playing field.

Thank you all for reading, commenting, and engaging.
Let's keep the conversation going...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pages From the Past: My 2002 Reading Journal

Welcome to another installment of Pages From the Past. Every month I have been sharing one year from my old reading journal. We're up to 2002, so let's get right to it...

My Favorite Reads of 2002

Empire Falls by Richard Russo
 I also read Straight Man in 2002. Russo is  still a favorite author.

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
I have vivid memories of reading this on a beach in Captiva, FL. About as far from a 'beach read' as you can get, it is an all-time favorite.

Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier 
My favorite novel by this author, I read it on the same vacation as A Fine Balance. I wonder if the sun, surf, and sand influenced my opinion...

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 
I keep changing my mind as to whether this or Crossing to Safety  is my favorite novel.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
I read a lot of Austen in 2002.

The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett
Read with an online book club and a little outside my comfort zone at that time. I loved the writing and have gone on to enjoy other books by this author.

Jemima J by Jane Green
An entertaining beach read 

I Wish I'd Skipped...

Lincoln's Dreams by Connie Willis
Read for an online book group. Not my kind of book... at all.

Lady Chatterly's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
The annual classic selection for my local book club, I may have been the only member to actually finish it.  Have not been tempted to read more Lawrence.

Other Notables

I don't remember much about this particular novel, but it's notable because it prompted me to take a break from Amy Tan. Too much of the same thing, perhaps? 

My first audiobook! I have been addicted to audios ever since.

That pretty much sums up my year in reading for 2002. Have you read any of these titles? If you are an audio fan, do you remember your first audiobook or when you began listening?

More Pages from the Past :

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Deep End by Julie Mulhern

June, 1974
Kansas City, Missouri
My morning swim doesn't usually involve corpses. If it did, I'd give up swimming for something less stressful, like coaxing cobras out of baskets or my mother out of bed before ten. 
Watching the sun rise over the seventh green is often the best part of my day. I dive into the pool while the water is still inky. When the light has changed from deepest indigo to lavender, I break my stroke, tread water and admire the day as it bleeds from gold to yellow to pink. It's a ritual, a metaphorical cleansing, a moment of stolen peace.

The Deep End (The Country Club Murders Book 1)
by Julie Mulhern
Henry Press, 2015
276 pages
source: purchased
goodreads summary

My thoughts:

It's been a long time since I last read a cozy mystery and, to tell you the truth, I'd forgotten how much fun they can be! Last Tuesday, within five minutes of each other,  I read reviews of Guaranteed to Bleed, Country Club Murders #2 from Katherine and Greg and knew I had to give this series a try.  If the 1970s setting wasn't enough to convince me, the Country Club aspect was. Stories about "rich people behaving badly", a genre coined by Sarah, are a particular weakness of mine.

The Deep End  brings back the seventies with Dr. Scholls, caftans, references to Watergate, popular music, and television series. The period details were just enough to provide context and interest, but not at all overdone.

The main character, Ellison Russell, is sympathetic and likable. I also developed a soft spot for "heroes" Detective Anarchy Jones and lawyer/friend/possible love interest Hunter Tafft. As usual, I wasn't able to figure out who the murderer actually was and should probably give up even trying.

The story reads like women's fiction, the murders are gentle, and I enjoyed every moment of this book - pure escapism! Did I mention how much I love the cover?

The ebook is only $2.99 right now, so it was on my kindle within minutes of reading the reviews. And talk about perfect timing... I took my mother to a doctor's appointment which involved several hours of testing later that day. The Deep End  was ideal reading material. It held my attention without requiring a great deal of concentration and was so entertaining. I can't wait to read the second book in this series.

My rating:

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Sunday Salon: October 25, 2015

Good morning, friends. Another week has flown by and it seems like the weekend goes even faster. Things have been relatively uneventful here... and that's fine with me. We haven't had any more snow and that's good news, too.

Read last week//

The Deep End by Julie Mulhern
Have you heard of The Country Club Murders? I don't read many mysteries, but something about the cover and 1970s country club setting appealed to me. Katherine and Greg both enjoyed the second in the series, so when I found Book 1 for just $2.99, "buy now with 1-click" happened.  This also counts toward  RIP X , so I haven't been a complete failure in that department after all. Look for my review later this week.

Almost finished//

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
Our next book club selection.  I decided to add in the audio version after Debbie mentioned how good it was. So glad I took her advice! Both the story and the narration suit my current mood and the weather perfectly. I'll finish later today or tomorrow.

New books in the house//

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Strout's new novel will be released in January. I've sworn off Netgalley, but she is a favorite, so I just had to request this one. I'm tempted to read it now and sit on my review until next year.

Oxford Reader's Companion to Trollope by R. C. Terry , editor
You didn't expect an update post completely devoid of Trollope, did you? I know I'm slightly obsessed right now, but Lisa is to blame/thank for this purchase.

On the blog//

Weekend Cooking: October Pin It and Do It Wrap-Up
Book Review:  My thoughts on Did You Ever Have A Family  by Bill Clegg
Tuesday Intro: Out Stealing Horses  by Per Petterson

The Week Ahead//
I'm looking forward to Halloween next weekend. We only get a handful of trick-or-treaters (it takes some effort to get little ones out here), but I love seeing the kids all dressed up. It reminds me of the days we gathered for take-out pizza with friends and took all the kids out trick-or-treating. Great memories!

Twin A is coming home on Thursday for a long weekend. I can't wait! She will enjoy all the Halloween festivities and I think she's already looking forward to the extra hour of sleep Saturday night when Daylight Savings Time ends.

How was your week? Did you read anything good?

This post will link to It's Monday, What Are You Reading? now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Pin It and Do It: October Wrap-Up

The fall edition of Trish's  Pin It and Do challenge is winding down and I, for one, am glad she decided to reprise this popular event. Once again, I chose to go the foodie route. My recipes this month included an appetizer, soup, a few main dishes and a dessert. There is one more vegetarian main dish I plan to try, a butternut squash and quinoa casserole. The ingredients are on hand and if it's successful, I will include the recipe in a future Weekend Cooking post.

All photos come from the blog or website where I found the recipe. Links take you to directly to the recipe. Here we go:

Apple crisp is pretty basic. It's so much easier than making an apple pie (no crust), but every bit as delicious. Since I always make pie, I have no 'go to' crisp recipe. This one from Mommy Hates Cooking  blog was simple to make. I brought it to Sunday dinner at my sister's and every last crumb disappeared. My only complaint was that it was a little too sweet... but then I usually cut back on the sugar in apple pies, too. (my pin)

I love Italian Wedding Soup, but never make it myself. I found this recipe on Gather for Bread  blog and was especially drawn to it because of the slow cooker. The soup was delicious... except for the meatballs. They were too dry. The next time I'll use ground beef that is not so lean or have the meatballs spend less time in the slow cooker. I do plan to give this a second chance. (my pin)

My husband loves chicken pot pie and I've been trying to find the perfect  recipe for years. This one from the Food Network  appealed to me because it looked easy, uses puff pastry, and because I think turnovers are more fun. It's a great recipe and I wouldn't change a thing, but it was a little more work than a "fun" recipe should be. (my pin)

I made these for my book club earlier this month. We met at 4 PM instead of our usual morning meeting time and appetizers were called for instead of coffee cake. The recipe is from The Kitchen is My Playground and I chose it because who can resist spinach and stuffing? I'll make these again sometime during the holiday season! (my pin)

Back to chicken pot pie again. Because the turnovers were a little fussy, the word "easy" drew me  to this recipe from Spicy Southern Kitchen. Still not quite as easy as I was hoping, the recipe was absolutely delicious - but with a whole stick of butter how could it not be? So filling, too! My husband loved it and I'll definitely make it again... just not very often since it isn't the most healthful recipe around. (my pin)

Finally, a truly simple and delicious dish! A rub of cumin, cinnamon, and kosher salt followed by a glaze of apricot preserves in the last ten minutes of cooking - that's all there is to this Simply Recipes recipe. It's an interesting twist on classic roast chicken and it looks so attractive on the serving platter, too. (my pin)

Links to other October Pin It and Do It wrap-up posts can be found on Trish's blog.

Do you use Pinterest?

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg

Did You Ever Have a Family
by Bill Clegg
Gallery/Scout Press, 2015
304 pages
source: borrowed from the library

Summary (from goodreads):
On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s life is completely devastated when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her daughter, her daughter’s fiancĂ©, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke—her entire family, all gone in a moment. And June is the only survivor.

Alone and directionless, June drives across the country, away from her small Connecticut town. In her wake, a community emerges, weaving a beautiful and surprising web of connections through shared heartbreak.

From the couple running a motel on the Pacific Ocean where June eventually settles into a quiet half-life, to the wedding’s caterer whose bill has been forgotten, to Luke’s mother, the shattered outcast of the town—everyone touched by the tragedy is changed as truths about their near and far histories finally come to light.

My thoughts:

What a pleasant surprise... Based on the above summary, I was expecting a depressing book, but Did You Ever Have a Family  turned out to be an emotionally absorbing, accomplished debut novel.

Short chapters told in multiple voices, each connected with those who died in the tragedy, allow for a gradual reveal of characters, backstories, and relationships. With each chapter, the novel grows in interest and complexity.

The initial voice belongs to a 15-year-old pot-smoking high school kid who works part time at a landscape business owned by the mother of the bride's boyfriend. Not exactly the type of character I'm particularly interested in or drawn to, yet he somehow pulled me right into the story and I just kept on reading.

And all of the other characters... alone, misunderstood, and yet somehow connected. Often impacting the lives of others in ways they can't even imagine.  Sad, but redemptive, too.

Did You Ever Have a Family  is a quick read. I devoured it in two sittings and loved every page. It was longlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and National Book Award.
“Rough as life can be, I know in my bones we are supposed to stick around and play our part. Even if that part is coughing to death from cigarettes, or being blown up young in a house with your mother watching. And even if it's to be that mother. Someone down the line might need to know you got through it. Or maybe someone you won't see coming will need you. Like a kid who asks you to help him clean motel rooms. Or some ghost who drifts your way, hungry. And good people might even ask you to marry them. And it might be you never know the part you played, what it meant to someone to watch you make your way each day. Maybe someone or something is watching us all make our way. I don't think we get to know why. Is is, as Ben would say about most of what I used to worry about, none of my business.”
My rating:

Monday, October 19, 2015

Tuesday Intro: Out Stealing Horses

Early November. It's nine o'clock.The titmice are banging against the window. Sometimes they fly dizzily off after the impact, other times they fall and lie struggling in the new snow until they can take off again. I don't know what they want that I have. I look out the window at the forest. There is a reddish light over the trees by the lake. It is starting to blow. I can see the shape of the wind on the water.
Out Stealing Horses
by Per Petterson

Our next book club selection is a book that has been on my wish list for years. I read the first few pages of Out Stealing Horses  last night - my initial thought is that this book will be very visual and very quiet. And maybe a slow build, too. Exactly what I'm in the mood for at the moment.

Here is a portion the goodreads summary:
Trond's friend Jon often appeared at his doorstep with an adventure in mind for the two of them. But this morning was different. What began as a joy ride on "borrowed" horses ends with Jon falling into a strange trance of grief. Trond soon learns what befell Jon earlier that day--an incident that marks the beginning of a series of vital losses for both boys. 
Set in the easternmost region of Norway, Out Stealing Horses begins with an ending. Sixty-seven-year-old Trond has settled into a rustic cabin in an isolated area to live the rest of his life with a quiet deliberation. A meeting with his only neighbor, however, forces him to reflect on that fateful summer.
What do you think? Are you tempted to keep reading?

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Sunday Salon: My Week in Allington

And so it begins... This morning we woke to a dusting of snow on the ground, covered rooftops, and temps well below freezing. That box on the left used to be my herb garden. It's October 18, my twin sisters' birthday and my mental "fair game" marker for snow. I used to look forward to winter, but now I just tolerate it until January and count the days until we head south!

As for blogging, it's been a quiet week. No book brief or Tuesday Intro, and I never got to the planned Weekend cooking post either. But I have had the most wonderful week in Allington! Of course I mean The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope. Several of us have been reading it together and chatting with everyone on twitter is great fun. As Audrey would say, I have been Trolloping with friends.

Yesterday morning, I dropped in on the readathon just long enough to finish up  The Small House at Allington. In seven years of blogging, readathon and my schedule have never meshed, and now I realize how much I've been missing! My participation was limited to posting a photo on instagram, tweeting once or twice, and taking a few breaks to keep up with those feeds. But that was only scratching the surface... there were cheerleaders, mini challenges, blog posts, and you would not believe the food. What an amazing event! As soon as the next one is announced (it's sometime in April), I'm blocking off the date on my calendar.

What do I read next?

The responsible  approach would be to pick up our next book club selection, Out Stealing Horses by Per Pettersen. I've wanted to read this book for years and even have a copy on my shelf. Of course, this is the book I will choose, but...

The impulsive approach would have me marching right on to The Last Chronicle of Barset. Do you think I've become a little obsessed with Trollope? It's so much fun reading with friends, so I will wait for our planned November/December time table. However, I satisfied the impulse by downloading a copy to my kindle and purchasing the companion audiobook. This is a chunkster... the page counts vary widely, but the audio version is over 30 hours. There will be plenty more time to spend in Barsetshire!

Nonfiction November is almost here, too. I love this event and am considering several books and audiobooks. Feeding my current Trollope mania is also a possibility. Maybe I'll just hunker down with the biography by Victoria Glendinning....

How was your week? What have you been reading?

It's Monday What Are You Reading?  is now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday Update: Columbus Day Weekend

Happy Monday, friends. Are you enjoying a long holiday weekend? After a quick trip to New York City on an apartment hunting adventure (for our daughters), we are back home. Unfortunately, the deal fell through and it appears Daughter #1 will stay put for another 6 months until Twin A officially joins her. We still had a great time in the city... a walk in Central Park, an art galley, delicious dinners, and the best doughnuts ever.

Current reading//

It has been all Trollope, all the time this week. After listening on my morning walks, I really wanted to continue reading The Small House at Allington on my kindle... and so I did. I did not realize the book was so long (I'm on page 473 of 776) and may need another week to finish. Trollope continues to enchant me.

In the meantime, I have decided to wait on Fates and Furies. It seems like it will be an intense reading experience and I don't want to lessen its impact by dividing my attention. The book is due in a few days, so I will return it to the library and put my name back on the hold list.

I'm still hoping to squeeze Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman in before the end of the month though.

On the blog//
Book Brief: Our Souls at Night  by Kent Haruf
Tuesday Intro: Fates and Furies  by Lauren Groff

That's it for me. My husband is at work today, so I plant spend much of the day reading. What books have caught your attention this week?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?  is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. While she is taking a break, check out the twitter hashtag #IMWAYR.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Book Brief: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Our Souls at Night
by Kent Haruf
Knopf, 2015
192 pages
source: purchased

"Who does ever get what they want? It doesn't seem to happen to many of us if any at all. It's always two people bumping against each other blindly, acting out old ideas and dreams and mistaken understandings."

One sentence summary: 
A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.  (from goodreads)

Brief thoughts:
Beautiful, simple, stark ... and nearly perfect!

It's been many years since I last read Kent Haruf, but a soft spot for his writing style and storytelling has remained. I purchased this book in Denver last summer to read on our flight home. That somehow seemed like the perfect time and place. And it was.

My rating:
I was leaning toward 4.5 stars, but settled on 5 in light of the author's recent passing.


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