Sunday, April 25, 2021

A Journey Toward Normalcy

It's been a big week... I reached full immunity Thursday. To celebrate, my SIL treated me to an iced coffee drink at our favorite cafe. We sat outside on their patio and soaked up the late afternoon sunshine. What a treat! Next, we browsed a local art gallery and planned a second outing, which happened yesterday. We visited two local independent bookstores, had lunch outdoors at a restaurant, and checked out a couple of new shops. It feels like life is starting to return to normal!

Finished this week//

This book was quite an undertaking, but well worth the time and effort. After hitting the 30% mark, I could hardly put it down. It focuses on Churchill's first year as Prime Minister. Larson offers an interesting look at the political landscape, the resiliency of Londoners during the Blitz, and domestic life of the Churchill family. As usual with nonfiction, I made it a read/listen combination and enjoyed John Lee's narration on my morning walks. 

After avoiding the topic for years, it looks like I'm on a WWII kick. The Splendid and the Vile  was a good follow-up to Code GirlsYesterday I  picked up a copy of Kate Quinn's new novel, The Rose Code  and I'm also wondering about adding Larson's In the Garden of Beasts  to my tbr list. Have any of you read it? 

Current Reading//

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

This short (under 200 pages) book pulled me in at the first sentence; "It was her idea to tie up the nun." It's a novel about a family that finds itself split between two countries, Colombia and the US, and their struggle to reunite. I'm about a third of the way in and it's very good so far.


We watched Ken Burn's Hemingway documentary on PBS last week. I really enjoyed it, but found the last two episodes rather depressing. As others have said, the first (of three) episode was by far the most enjoyable.

In the kitchen//

It was another mostly uninspired week in the kitchen. I prepared recipes from our regular rotation and made Laurie Colwin's Gingerbread for a Friday treat.

Now that I'm fully vaccinated, I look forward to visiting the first Trader Joe's in our area and returning to Whole Foods for a few specialty items.

The week ahead//

I'm finally getting a haircut! And highlights, too. Only 48 hours to go. It also seems strange to  have two social events on the calendar this week. Both are small groups and outdoors, but I'm still a little apprehensive.

How was your week? What have you been reading?

Independent Bookstore Day haul!

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

Sunday, April 18, 2021

A Short Sunday Salon: April 18, 2021

 Hello, friends. Today's post will be short... there's just not much to report this week. Twin A flew back to NYC after nearly a month of working remotely. It was such a treat to have her here with us. Thankfully, she was able to receive her first dose of the vaccine the following day. Now all three of our daughters are partially vaccinated - that's progress.

I'm practically counting down the hours until I reach full immunization  - 96 to go!! 

Current reading//

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

This is a great read! The beginning was good but, around the 30% mark, it became enthralling. I'm listening to John Lee's narration on my morning walks, and then spending my afternoon reading time with the ebook. (I decided not to start a novel.) Maybe I'll finish by next weekend.


This 2017 film was excellent. Guess I'm going for total immersion...

In the kitchen//

I'm still cooking from my newest cookbook, Half Baked Harvest Super Simple  by Tieghan Gerard. Last night I made Lemon Butter Cod with Orzo and Asparagus, a simple and flavorful one skillet meal. Instead of cod, I used local tripletail. The fillets are thinner than cod and it tastes similar to snapper. Delicious!

The week ahead//

The T Book Club presents its discussion of The Talented Mr. Ripley  by Patricia Highsmith on Thursday. This is the last book in the four-part series featuring American Classics. As far as I can tell, it has been a success. I'm wondering if they will host another series... perhaps in the fall? You can still sign up if you're interested. I finished the book earlier this month and plan to watch the 1999 film before the discussion, too.

Saturday is Independent Bookstore Day! I'm doubly excited because I will be able to visit our local indie for the first time in ages, plus they have moved to a beautiful new location that I can't wait to checkout.

The rest of the week should be pretty routine... morning walks, assorted projects and chores, cooking, sunset beach-sitting. No complaints here!

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

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Sunday Salon: April 11, 2021

Whew, it's been a busy couple of weeks around here. We celebrated Easter, our twin daughters' birthday, and enjoyed spending time with my sister and brother-in-law during there recent visit. 

The big news is that I got my second vaccination on Thursday! Like last time, we had to drive two hours each way, but it was a nice day for a road trip... and so worth it. My side effects were worse this time - fever and chills, muscle aches, and headache. I felt fine after 24 hours. In two weeks I can finally go to the hair salon. Maybe I'll get a pedicure too! 

Recent reading//

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

I loved this book - a solid 5 star read!  I hope to post a review later this week.

by Sayaka Murata,  narrated by Nancy Wu

What a wonderful audiobook! This book has been on my wish list for a while, but Diane's recent review convinced me to listen now. This short (just over 3 hours) audio is included with an audible plus membership and is also available on hoopla. If you enjoy books with quirky characters (like Eleanor Oliphant) this belongs on your list.

by Patricia Highsmith

This is the next selection for The T Book Club, sponsored by The New York Times Style Magazine. I wasn't feeling it last time I posted, but your encouraging comments and the fact that my daughter is currently reading a Highsmith novel, made me change my mind.

Tom Ripley is a classic sociopath (definitely not my typical reading fare) and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. What a fascinating character! I also enjoyed the Italian setting. But, I didn't like the way the book made me feel...  too tense, too much on edge. Ultimately, that means Highsmith succeeded. I'm not sure whether I'll read the other Ripley novels, but you never know.

This was a read/listen combination for me and I highly recommend the audio version narrated by Kevin Kenerly.  The book discussion, led by writer Edmund White, will take place on 4/22. Click on the T Book Club link to join in. 

Current reading//

My recent reading of Code Girls  inspired me to seek out more WWII nonfiction, so here we are with Erik Larson's latest. This is another read/listen combination for me. I started the audio (narrated by John Lee and just under 18 hours long) on my walk yesterday. It's very interesting so far, but will take a while to finish.

National Poetry Month//

April is National Poetry Month. Thanks to Iliana, I signed up for Poem-A-Day and now receive a poem in my inbox each morning.

In the kitchen//

Between Easter, birthday celebrations, and family visits, I haven't tried many new recipes. Instead, the focus has been on traditional menus and family favorites with a few nights of take-out added to the mix.

One night we had leftover steak, so I made Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas from The Busy Baker. Since the steak was already cooked, I only warmed it for the last few minutes and then tossed it with the peppers and onions before serving. This was a big hit with the family and I can see trying it with shrimp or chicken, too.

We grilled boneless chicken breasts one night using this Honey Mustard Chicken recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod. The combination of whole grain and dijon mustard is delicious combined with honey. The acid from the lemon juice "helps break down the chicken, allowing the marinade’s oil and spices to infuse the meat with flavor and moisture." This is a keeper!

Today I made Morning Maple Muffins from Taste of Home. We all enjoyed one, then I sent the rest over to my FIL and SIL.

The week ahead//

We don't have a lot planned this week - a routine doctor's appointment, early morning grocery shopping, and wine on the beach with friends. Twin A will fly back to NYC on Friday... how can her month here be ending already??

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

Friday, April 2, 2021

March Reading Wrap-Up and A Look Ahead

 Is it just me, or does is seem like March lasted for a very long time?  Highlights here included vaccinations (one for me, one for Twin B, and two for my husband!), a visit from my brother and his fiancĂ©, Twin A arriving for an extended visit, experimenting with my new air fryer, trying several new recipes, and, of course, beautiful sunsets on the beach.

I ended up reading six books in March, including three of the four from my tentative list. I started the month with two impulse reads (always fun), followed by the new Shelf Subscription (Brood didn't work for me at all), and then dove into nonfiction for Women's History Month. I moved on to a backlist title from an author I've previously enjoyed and finished the month with a book I'd hoped to get to last year. 

Books Read in March//

Young  Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin  3.5/5

The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi  3/5

Brood by Jackie Polzin  

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy  5/5

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller  3.5/5

Writers & Lovers by Lily King (no review yet)  5/5

My favorite books of March//

Tentative Reading for April//

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson (nonfiction)

April Shelf Subscription selection  (new fiction, ships 4/6)

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (T Book Club, American classic - I'm not in the mood for this now. We'll see how I feel in a week or two. Have you read it?)

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (translated fiction, 2018)

How did your March reading go? What was your favorite book last month?


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