Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Sunday Salon: February 28, 2021

Here we are... the last day of February. The weather has been gorgeous and we expanded our pandemic routine to include several sunsets on the beach. (Winters in Florida are the best!)  I  enjoyed morning walks with an audiobook, afternoon reading on the lanai, experimenting with a few new recipes, and chatting with family on Zoom. 

I've allowed myself to start thinking about what life may look like as we emerge from our pandemic isolation. My husband is scheduled to receive his second dose of the vaccine in a couple of weeks, but there is still no indication as to when I may be eligible to receive one. Hopefully sometime this spring. Until then, I'll keep dreaming about a trip to the hair salon, eating outdoors at a favorite restaurant, and going into the grocery story for just a couple items in between major shops. I know it's coming...

Finished last week//

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds,  Ibram X. Kendi

I am not the target audience for this book. It's a YA remix of Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped From the Beginning, which is much longer and, I assume, more dense and scholarly... not something I'm in the mood to tackle right now. Reynolds delivers Kendi's main ideas in a way that will appeal to younger (teen) audiences. 

This is not an easy book to read. It examines the evolution of racism /institutional racism in this country. I was left feeling rather depressed and wondering how we, as a country, move forward. Stamped  felt a little light on historical context, so I will read Kendi's book at some point.  (This was a read/listen combination.)

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

My final read of the month was an impulse pick. Scrolling through goodreads, I noticed Stacy rated A Raisin in the Sun 5 stars. I thought I remembered reading (or possibly seeing) the play in high school, but couldn't come up with any memories of plot, characters, etc. Since it's Black History month and the play is short, I decided to give it a quick read before February ended. (I also found a recording of the original 1959 Broadway show on Overdrive and listened to part of that, too!)

In 1959  James Baldwin is quoted as saying "never before in the entire history of the American theater had so much of the truth of black people's lives been seen on stage." A Raisin in the Sun  was a powerful follow-up to my recent reading of The Warmth of Other Suns. Also set in Chicago, the struggles of the Younger family in the play practically mirror the real-life hardships of Ida Mae Gladney and her family as detailed in Wilkerson's book. I'm so glad I made time to read this play.

Current reading//

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Levin

This lighter read is just the change of pace I need... a perfectly timed recommendation from Les! Hope to finish it later today or tomorrow

In the kitchen//

Mediterranean Shrimp and Pearled Couscous from SkinnyTaste One & Done  was fairly quick, easy, and tasty. The cookbook was a Christmas present and, unfortunately, I couldn't find the recipe online.

Thai Basil Chicken Stir Fry from The Lemon Bowl was a hit last week. I didn't have Sambal Oelek Chili Paste, so substituted (too much!) Chili Garlic Sauce. The dish was too spicy for all of us, but we still didn't have any leftovers. Next time I'll leave out the chili sauce entirely.

We'd already done our grocery shopping for the week when the new air fryer arrived, so I experimented with what I had on hand... and made Zucchini Chips. I'm looking forward to trying other recipes this week!


We're enjoying CNN's Searching for Italy with Stanley Tucci. I'm not sure when we'll be able to get much closer to Italy than this. Have you seen it?

That's it for me this week. How have you been? What are you reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

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

Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Sunday Salon: February 21, 2021

Another week has passed - quietly here, but my heart goes out to all those without power and water due to the storms and bitter cold. It's been a rough week for so many...

Read last week//

We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida

Annie is two for two with Shelf Subscriptions! This month's selection was a coming of age story set in mid-1980s San Francisco which she describes as "feeling weirdly like  Mean Girls meets My Brilliant Friend." I think that's spot on... and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. It was perfect reading for the long holiday weekend. 

This book has been on my "to read" list for a long time, but Athira's recent comments gave me the push I needed to finally pick it up... and I'm so glad I did. Olou gave me a lot to think about and I learned a few things, too. This book is definitely a must read! I mostly listened to the audio version narrated by Bahni Turpin, but was happy to also have a library ebook. There were several passages I wanted to reread slowly. If you haven't read this yet, I urge you to make time soon!

Current reading//
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi

I started listening to this YA remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning  on my walk this morning. So far it's a good follow-up to So You Want to Talk About Race. I'll have more to say next week.

I'll also start something in print this evening.

In the kitchen//

This was the week I finally decided to purchase an air fryer. After talking with friends over a (socially-distanced, outdoor) glass of wine, I figured it was time. This couple has spent the pandemic honing their culinary skills and were very enthusiastic about their air fryer... and sous vide, too, but that'll be for another time.

It arrived yesterday and the cookbook is coming until tomorrow. I'm sure we'll have fun experimenting with it. Do you have a favorite air fryer recipe I should try?

Last week's new recipes included Honey Hoisin Tofu from Katie Workman's Mom 100 Cookbook and Crab-Stuffed Shrimp from Skinnytaste One and Done... I couldn't fine either of the recipes online. 


The Last Czars - Netflix
We watched all 6 episodes of this 2019 show and really enjoyed it. It made me wish I hadn't culled my Russian history books before moving...

We also watched Nomadland on hulu (thanks to our daughter) over the weekend. No surprise, but I much preferred the book. Still, the cinematography was wonderful. I loved the scenes shot in the Arizona desert and in The Badlands... and am pretty sure I caught a glimpse of the Needles Highway, too.

So, that was my week. What's new with you. What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It's Monday... What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Sunday, February 14, 2021

A Valentine's Day Sunday Salon: February 14,2021

Happy Valentine's Day! Are you doing anything special to celebrate this long holiday weekend?  Burgers on the grill and some kind of special chocolate dessert will probably be the extent of our festivities.

We had GOOD NEWS on the vaccine front last week. My husband was finally able get his first dose! He booked an appointment online, but the closest location still available was in Tampa. So Friday we made the three-plus hour drive (traffic!), he received his first dose, we turned around, and drove back home. A day well spent! Luckily, his side effects were minimal. Next month we get to do it all again. Not sure when I'll be eligible... 

It was also a good week on the reading front.

Finished last week//

 Everything Beautiful in it's Time: Seasons of Love and Loss by Jenna Bush Hager

Regardless of your politics, it's easy to appreciate the graciousness and decency of the Bush family, especially the late George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush. Over the course of a difficult year, Jenna Bush Hager lost her three remaining grandparents. Here, in a collection of apolitical essays, stories, and letters, is her tribute to them... her tribute to family. Filled with loved and sometimes tinged with sadness, her memories allow the reader (or listener, in this case) to catch a glimpse of the private lives of these public figures. Listening to the author's voice furthers the impact of this truly beautiful memoir. Keep your tissues handy! 

***This was an impulse purchase from audible's current "Listens to Love" sale. Hundreds of titles are still available for $5 through Monday, but it might be dangerous for you to click over!

Yea Gyasi is an extremely talented young writer. Her debut novel, Homegoing, was a favorite a few years ago. I finished her follow-up this morning and it was good. I liked it, but I didn't love it... and I was fully expecting to love it. It took me nearly a third of the book to become fully engaged, but then I was all in with Gifty, her family, and her work. Wonderful writing, heartbreakingly real characters, and big ideas (faith, science, family, mental illness)... this should have been a 5-star read for me. I need to spend some more time thinking about why it wasn't.

Up next//

We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida

I'll likely start my February Shelf Subscription next. It's a coming of age story set in mid-80s San Francisco that sounds very promising.

I also need to choose my next audiobook today. Nonfiction? Maybe a classic?

I'll keep you posted.

In the kitchen//

Once again, I wasn't particularly inspired last week. We tried one new recipe for Lemon Rosemary Halibut. The marinade, simple and flavorful, includes white balsamic vinegar which I purchased specifically for this recipe. It's likely more for aesthetics than flavor, so regular balsamic probably works just as well. I used local hogfish instead of halibut... delicious.

We had Slow Cooker Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli again... my new favorite soup. I also made Ina Garten's Blueberry Bran Muffins.

How was your week? What are you reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It's Monday... What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

The Sunday Salon: February 7, 2021

 It's been another low-key week here in Florida. Highlights include an excellent book, an outdoor socially-distanced pizza party, some time in the kitchen, and lots of walks. Temps were below normal early in the week (including one morning in the 40s!) but we're back to a pleasant 70 this morning.

Vaccine frustration dominated a couple of our mornings as we tried in vain to make an appointment for my husband. The Publix appointments filled before the site even let us in. We'll try again on Wednesday... fingers crossed.

Finished this week//

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Narrative nonfiction doesn't get any better than this. What an amazing read! Wilkerson's research is meticulous, her writing is excellent, and the story keeps you turning the pages. The book never felt as long as it actually is... 600+ pages or nearly 23 hours on audio. The read/listen combination kept me fully engaged and I was always eager to return in either format. This book is ten years old now (Caste is her current offering) and I know many of you have read it, but his eye-opening read has earned a place on my list of all-time favorites. 

Current reading//

Since it's Black History Month, I decided to pick up Ya Gyasi's latest novel. Homegoing was a favorite in 2017 and I've been looking forward to reading this, too. I started listening to the audio version narrated by Bahni Turpin (a favorite) on my walk and have also borrowed the book from the library. 

On the blog//  Ten Classics on My TBR List

Virtual events//

None last week, but I'm looking forward to a couple this week, including one sponsored by the Trollope Society. It features Julian Fellowes (creator of Downton Abbey) in conversation with Gyles Brandreth, discussing the society's online Big Read of Doctor Thorne - one of my favorite Trollope novels. More information is here.

In the kitchen//

Mostly repeat recipes last week: Clam Chowder (I discovered that Bar Harbor brand chopped sea clams are much better than the well-known brand I've been buying for years), a repeat of Katie Workman's Chocolate Banana Cake (a big hit with my FIL) and, one of my daughter's favorites, Slow Cooker Orange Chicken. I use low-sugar orange marmalade for that recipe.

The week ahead//

Again, more of the same... a couple of appointments, walks, time in the kitchen, and hopefully at least one sunny afternoon reading on the beach.

How was your week? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It's Monday... What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Ten Classics on My TBR List

 It's time for another edition of Top Ten Tuesday. Today's prompt is actually "Books Written Before I Was Born"... but since any book written before I was born should be considered a classic, let's take a look at ten I'd like to read (or reread) within the next year or two. These are all on my second Classics Club list. 

Villette by Charlotte Brontë - I've read many of the Bronte novels, but never got around to this one.

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather - This has been unread on my shelf for years.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky - the Pevear and Volokhonsky  translation

The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas, because I loved The Count of Monte Cristo

The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy -The first three novels of the series were excellent and I must read the rest of them!

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell - Can it be as good as North and South?

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - I've been meaning to reread this since high school.

Miss Mackenzie by Anthony Trollope - because it's been a year since I read Trollope and I miss him!

The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton, to follow-up The Husband Hunters (nonfiction)

The Priory by Dorothy Whipple, because it's been on my shelf for a decade

Have you read any of these? Where should I start?


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