Category Archives: Books

Fancy Breakfast Friday: Granola Bars

DSC02250

I made granola bars again.  I’m not sure why I am so into granola bars, but I am.  I wish I could tell you how to make these, but they are 95% this recipe (but with peanut butter) and 5% this recipe (millet).  I served them with bacon and eggs and the boys seemed to love them.  I think I planned to take them camping, but I forgot to pack them (along with the butter, coffee and various snacks). They did come in handy as an afternoon snack mid-week when we were completely out of food.  In other news, there are 4 left and it’s been a week.  I can’t tell if this means they aren’t that great or, since I am storing them in the fridge, it’s an out of sight out of mind situation.   Luke seems to love them when they are offered. He doesn’t seek them out.

Granola bars aren’t super photogenic, and the lighting in my house is not ideal, especially after dinner on a Thursday night.  I decided to photograph them with a stack of books because it’s been a while since I did that and… I am about to reach an exciting book milestone.  The Boulder Library does an optional reading history which I LOVE. It’s a list of all the books I have checked out since October 1, 2005.  I looked at it this morning and I was at 988.  Then I checked out two more books and I am still at 988 so I am not 100% sure how it works, maybe there is some batch process that runs at night?  Regardless, I think something exciting should happen when I hit 1000.  Maybe I could plan an entire day of drinking coffee while lying in the couch, reading.  Or, I could read at a fancy coffee shop, or maybe even at a bar.  Obviously reading would have to be a part of it.  Maybe I’ll also pay off my fine.  I know, it sounds so exciting!!  The real question is – should I plan to check out a special book for my 1000th book? Or just let it be random? What book should I check out?  10 or 12 books to go, will I reach 1000 before the end of the year? That picture up there doesn’t even show all the books I have currently checked out, so I think I’ll make it.

Fancy Breakfast Friday: Corn Tortillas

dsc08206

At Dave’s request, I made corn tortillas from scratch as a basis for huevos rancheros.

dsc08201

I bought the masa harina at King Soopers instead of getting the real deal from one of my many other options in Boulder.  King Soopers also had something more authentic looking than what I bought (the Quaker brand) but the bag was a lot bigger and I had a suspicion I would go back to buying tortillas after making them once so… I bought the smaller bag.

When I got home I realized I bought the darn bag for flour tortillas.  As I already have 4 kinds of wheat flour, I returned it for the corn flour.  Luke and Lucy walked to the grocery store with me, so that was a nice outing.

Breakfast was delicious, obviously.  But the leftovers were… crackery.  In retrospect I wonder if I overcooked them.  It took me about 5 tortillas to get it “right”.  I suppose I’ll make them again as I have a lot of masa harina left over.

I read that it’s hard to get the shape you want with a rolling pin.  The preferred method is to use a tortilla press.  Even though I knew I wasn’t going to end up with perfectly round tortillas, I was surprised at how misshapen they were, and at how annoyed I was by that.

I did spend a lot of time thinking of the people who lived in the Mesa Verde area while I was rolling my tortillas.  (This is just an excuse to share vacation pictures.)

I already shared my book for this week in my book club post on Monday, but here it is again.

dsc08200

 

Book Club: Smash the Patriarchy

img_1587

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay– I can’t really do a book review here because I just started reading this, but I like it so far.  It’s a book of essays.

Between The World and Me by Ta-Nahisi Coates– I have recommended this before.  Its a letter from a man to his son about the dangers of growing up black in America, and about how race is a social construct.  I kept waiting for the solution to be presented, but it’s a description of the world as it is today from a perspective you may not have.

Americanah by Chimamamda Ngozi Adichie –  This book is fiction, and I read it over a year ago.  Many parts of it remain vivid in my memory, which I think is a sign of a well written book.  It is a story about a Nigerian immigrant’s life in American, and eventual return home.  While I was looking up the link, I saw that she has also written a book called We Should All Be Feminists, which I haven’t read but I just ordered it from the library.

Shrill: Notes from a  Loud Woman by Lindy West – I read this a while ago, and I had resisted at first because some of Lindy’s essays or blog posts rubbed me the wrong way when I read them on Jezebel.  But reading this book gave me more perspective and background on her thoughts and where she is coming from.  She writes about the fact that words matter, and they way we talk affects the way people are treated.  It’s also very funny.

I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajay– I haven’t read this yet, but I plan to soon.  I like the idea of a book that will make me laugh and contain a plan for being better on social media.

img_1586

Fancy Breakfast Friday: Pan Dulce

img_1576

Luke had pan dulce in his Spanish class as part of their Día de los Muertos celebration so he put in a Fancy Breakfast Friday request.  I have never made pan dulce, nor did I know how to say it, so I went with the King Arthur Flour recipe. In retrospect, I should have considered a couple recipes, maybe one with a prettier topping, because these didn’t turn out like the pan dulce at la pastelería.   (Or should I say la panadería?  There’s been some debate here this morning.)  There’s that point in the recipe where it says, “Just before baking, use a pan dulce cutter to press a pattern into the topping.” That’s when you give up on looks and hope that it tastes good.

I followed the recipe to step 9 the night before and then left them in the fridge over night. In the morning, they had until the oven was warmed up to rise on the counter and then they were cooked.

As I was prepping the dough the night before Luke asked what I was doing and I told him that I was making pan dulce with a “ch” sound and he got the sweetest smile on his face.  I thought it meant, “Wow what a great and loving Mom I have.”  But when he said, “Uh.  It’s pronounced Pan Dulce” I realized it was a smile of “You dummy.”  That’s OK, if anyone appreciates Fancy Breakfast Friday, it’s Luke.

Instead of halving the recipe and then making smaller portions, as I have been doing lately, I accidentally made the whole thing, and came up with 8 instead of 10.  They were huge.  Jack almost missed the bus because it took him so long to eat his.

I took a picture with the book I read last week too, The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan.  It’s a little book about a good man.  Each chapter is from the perspective of a different character.  I read about it in the New York Times Book Review where Tana French recommended it, and Tana French had been recommended to me by my Aunt Linda, so I knew I had to read it.

img_1578

 

Book Club: Summer Reading Check in!

DSC07250

How is everyone’s summer reading coming along?  Have you read anything amazing or trashy or trashy/amazing or educational or fun?  Have you checked off all your summer fun activities?

We have done a lot of fun things, but we have less than 2 weeks until school starts and I haven’t taken Jack to Dinosaur Ridge yet.  That was the one thing I told myself I would do this summer.  Time flies!

One thing we learned this summer is that you can grow chia on your chia pet with seeds from costco.   Question asked and answered!  That was some investigative research right there.

I have also read a lot of books.  I procrastinated Barkskins forever, because I didn’t want to start it and have it take the rest of the summer and leave me no time for anything else.  Makes sense to play 2048 on my phone instead, right?  So dumb.  But once I got into it, it was so good and tragic.  The 4 pages of family tree worried me when I noticed them while trying to figure out how many pages I was up against, but after I got a generation or two into the story, they were a necessity.  Recommend.IMG_0405

This is Lucy posing in front of the books and magazines I just unpacked from our camping vacation. I had also planned to read a bunch of books on my kindle app, but that didn’t work out for two reasons.  The first was that moths were flying into my screen when I tried to read at night, and moths are horrible creatures that freak me out to death.  The second reason was that Luke brought only one book and read it on the first day.  So I just let him read e-books for the rest of the trip because I am a mom and I make sacrifices.  My favorite vacation read was Fangirl, and not just because it was recommended to me by my sister at 2:30 am at a bar on an island with a sandy floor while we were sitting on a swing.  What happens in Put in Bay stays, etc, etc unless it’s a book discussion and that must be shared with the world.

I do have a mild sense of panic about two books I still need to read, and I kind of should have had them done by yesterday.  One is the 4th book in the Neapolitan Series, because I borrowed them from a friend who was gone for the summer and I think she’s back. But worse than that, she read Queen of the Night at my recommendation this spring, and I hadn’t read it yet and I owe it to her to also read it.  But I procrastinated and now I am out of time.  She’s back from Sweden!  Maybe if I promise to read it by the end of the year?

What was your favorite summer read?  I think mine are:

Fangirl
Eligible
Barkskins

But here is the complete list of books I have read so far this summer:

Fangirl -Rainbow Rowell
Missing, Presumed – Susie Steiner
I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh
I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies, #1) – Pittacus Lore
Eligible (The Austen Project #4) – Curtis Sittenfeld
Sleeping Giants (Themis Files, #1) – Sylvain Neuvel
LaRose – Louise Erdrich
Barkskins – Annie Proulx
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (The Neapolitan Novels, #3) – Elena Ferrante
The Girls – Emma Cline
Liar & Spy – Rebecca Stead
The Round House – Louise Erdrich
When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
Maestra – L.S. Hilton

I’m feeling too lazy to link everything today, but you should be able to get more info from my goodreads account, and that is linked in the sidebar.

Please enjoy another perspective on my chia pet and have a great last few days of summer!

DSC07244

Fancy Breakfast Friday: Liège Waffles

image

Last Friday I planned ahead for the first time in a while and made Liège Waffles from Feed Zone Portables.  These are raised waffles (contains yeast) and they rise in the fridge overnight.  In the morning I split the dough into 12 pieces and rolled them in turbinado sugar before putting them in the waffle maker.  I cut up all the strawberries I had (overbought at Costco and then had to use before they went bad.. Or as they were going bad.) and added a little sugar to make a syrup.  Waffles were served with strawberry syrup, strawberries and a mint leaf.

I woke up early enough to make my own waffle and do a little reading before anyone was up.  (I was reading LaRose by Louise Erdrich.)

image

I had a pre-bachelorette party hair appointment early that morning, so I started to leave instructions so each person could make their own waffles as they woke, but everybody was up just in time for a waffle before I left.

Poor Lucy had to wait until I took photos and ate before she got any breakfast.

image

*Links are affiliate links.

 

Summer Reading!

Summer officially started for me as a kid when I got my pool pass and signed up for the summer reading program at the library.  I never had space to write in all the books I read, and I was always secretly sad that it was “for fun” and not something I could win.  What else is there to do in the summer besides reading books and swimming?  My kids start mountain bike practice today, so I guess new summer things have been invented since the 80s.

It’s easy to find a list of books to read over the summer, but what has been missing from my life is the library brochure, where I can check things off, or color things in, and basically feel like I am really getting the most of of my summer and my reading.  I hinted last summer at the library that they needed an Adult Summer Reading program, and I found a sympathetic librarian, but nothing has materialized yet so I had to take matters into my own hands.

I present to you, the MetaMegan summer reading program!

Click here for the PDF:  MetaMeganSummerReading2016

This is a list of fun things to do in the summer, paired with book recommendations.

Today is the day after Memorial Day, so put on your white pants, print this out, take it to the library and start reading.  Feel free to color in the bubbles once you have crossed a book or an activity off your list. Join the occasional MetaMegan book club discussions to share thoughts and recommendations.

Happy Summer Reading!

MetaMeganSummerReading2016-page-001-2

 

Book Club

 

IMG_0883

Today is Independent Bookstore Day – all these books are linked to Indiebound, and I get a small percentage if you purchase books via this link.  I will not be offended if you get them from your local bookstore or the library!

I was obsessed with the Tournament of Books for the first part of the year, reading a lot of great books and finding many that I just had to abandon.  At the end of the tournament there are always posts and comments about contenders for next year.  I immediately ordered several from the library and they have been rolling in.  Of course as soon as I picked up the first book at the library I thought, “Ugh. Am I ready for a BOOK?”  I kind of felt like something lighter  and easier than a contender for best book of 2016.  Isn’t that a weird thought?  I wasn’t in the mood to read something GOOD – capital letters required.  But then I read the inside flap and it said, “…comes home to find his wife killed…”  And I was like, SOLD!  Of course, then I thought something was really wrong with me.  I spent all afternoon yesterday reading All Things Cease to Appear, and then texting people to recommend it.  It starts with a murder, and you start off trying to figure out who did it.  Then you start to learn… so much more about the characters.  Could not put it down.

Here are a few others I  have loved so far this year:

The Turner House – This is a book about a family in Detroit.  Read this if you like characters or if you are in a family.

Our Souls At Night – Love story between two old people.  Read this if you think you may get old.

The Tsar of Love and Techno – When I was describing this to Dave I said, “I really loved this, but at first it seemed like some of the chapters didn’t fit in.  The style wasn’t totally cohesive.  In the end, I felt like all the chapters worked together as a whole, but I had to get halfway through it before I felt that way.”  A couple weeks later I learned that this was a book of short stories, and I felt really, really, really dumb.  Knowing it’s a book of short stories, I have nothing against it now.  I have had it on my mind a lot since I have been reading about the anniversary of Chernobyl.  This takes place in Siberia and Chechnya, but there are parallels.

Ongoingness – Read this if you are someone obsessed with writing a diary.

My Brilliant Friend – This is the first in a series of four books about a small town in Italy.  Nothing and everything happens in this book.  Read this when you have time to avoid everything else in your life because I found it hard to put down.

As usual, I have been reading a lot of YA books as well.

I read the fourth book in the Lunar Series – Winter.  This was actually really really good.  It seems like a “guilty pleasure” a little, but really it was just a pleasure.  Read this series if you like fairy tales with strong female characters who can rule the world.  Don’t read if you aren’t open to cyborgs and aliens.  (Don’t limit yourself.)  Start with Cinder and go from there.

Jack and I heard Kwame Alexander on NPR and I loved the way he talked about poetry and boys – this statement stuck with me:

“I think that so often we think of boys as just wanting to be a part of sports, but when you get on a sports team and you really get in that huddle and you get on the court with these boys, or you get on the pitch, it’s all about family and friendship and love and rivalry and it’s extremely emotional.”

Luke and Jack and I were reading The Crossover at bedtime, taking turns with each poem and it was really great.  Right up until the point that the boys figured out how it was going to end.  I offered to let them read it on their own, but they decided to just let me read the end on my own and tell them if they had it right.  They did, and I don’t mind that they didn’t want to finish it – reading half a book of poetry with your mom is better than nothing.

Jack and I are now reading The BFG, which we are loving.  I wanted to make him read a page and then I would read a page, but that isn’t working for this book because of all the made up words.  I actually find it kind of exhausting to read it out loud, but I think it’s better to read it out loud, or listed to an audio version because the way the BFG talks is really, really funny.

What are you reading?

 

 

Book Club: A Manual For Cleaning Women

IMG_0353

Sometimes I find short stories hard to read because they can be gritty and raw, and distilled to an uncomfortable point where I feel too sad or uncomfortable or drained by reading them.  The first story in A Manual for Cleaning Women was that way.  And so were many others at the beginning.  Somewhere in the first quarter of the book I wondered if the stories were autobiographical and I read about the author, Lucia Berlin. I didn’t know what to wish for -I didn’t want for her to have lived that life.  I read some articles and I thought, “there are just so many short stories in this book, I don’t know if I can go on.”

For reasons that defy explanation, I decided to take a break and read A Cure For Suicide.  At this time, the short list for the Tournament of Books came out, and the two books I was reading from the long list didn’t make the cut.  A Cure For Suicide was an OK library book, but it didn’t go where I wanted it to go.  It was a quick and weird read.  So I went back to A Manual for Cleaning Women.  This time, I just read and enjoyed it.  The story grew and expanded and became more detailed.  The author was complicated, and smart and interesting and flawed.  I am still thinking about the stories weeks later.  I highly recommend this book, with the caveat that you should stick with it through the beginning until you get into a flow.  And take a break if you need it.  Take a break, but don’t give up.

This is actually part two of the madeleine story, because it was this passage that sent me down the path towards making madeleines for the boys.  I had seen the recipe in my cookbook, but it was this passage in A Manual For Cleaning Women that really made me stop and think about making them.

“I could still smell him.  The pong of him was madeleine-like for me, bringing back Grandpa and Uncle John, for starters.”

Using that iconic madeleine image to describe the alcoholic workman re-tiling the bathroom in her trailer was so gross and brilliant.  It made me wish the author was still alive and teaching at CU.  I would have enrolled in a class just to meet her if it wasn’t too late.

*This post contains affiliate links to indiebound.org.

* I’m behind on my puppy/book photo shoots and this was was almost all outtakes

IMG_0354

Book Club 

  It’s that most wonderful time of the year: “Best of” Book List time!  I like to give myself a gold star if I have read a bunch of the books, and if I see some I want to read, I can order them at the library.  This time of year, they show up right away because all the cool people have already read them.  Then I get a little stressed about by growing pile of library books, and the only way to destress is to read.  It’s a cycle.

Here are some of the lists I have perused:

BuzzFeed: (link) I have read 4.25 of these books.  

Goodreads (link) 4 books

New York Times (link) 9.75 (in the middle of two books on the list.)  This one is gold star worthy for sure.  

It’s been a whole since my last book club post so I have a lot to cover.

I finished The Boys In the Boat, and I am so glad because it was so good.  I loved to learn about the history of time and the adversity that some of the athletes had to overcome.  Thanks for the suggestion, Dad.  Another reader recommendation was “mysteries by Tana French.”  I checked out The Secret Place, and renewed it two times without cracking it open.  At game time, it was read or return, and I just couldnt return it without giving it a go.  I don’t know why I resisted, it was so good.  I didn’t have my usual problem of guessing the solution and reading the last chapter to find out if I was right.  I just let it unfold and it was very enjoyable.  There was even a touch of the supernatural, which I love, but it was light enough that you could gloss over it, if you aren’t into that sort of thing.  (Thanks Aunt Linda!)   I read The Year of Magical Thinking, which was very well written but so sad.  Next was Kitchens of the Great Midwest, which may be my favorite book of the year.  It’s one person’s life, and each chapter focuses on a person that comes into contact with her.  I was sad when each chapter moved on to focus on someone else, and so happy if/when they popped up later.  So good.  And I loved the recipes and the focus on food.  I finished Between The World And Me just after it was announced as the National Book Award, so that was very timely.  Every white person in America should read it for a different perspective.  I had been stalking Fates and Furies ever since I heard Richard Russo recommend it on NPR but my library didn’t even have a copy.   I put the digital and hard copy on hold at the Erie library and started the digital copy as soon as I could.   Just as my one week digital loan expired, the hard copy came in.  I was trying to motivate myself to go to Erie when I saw it on the “lucky day” shelf at my local library.  The universe wanted me to read it.  Fates and Furies is on all the year end lists, and I thought it was very interesting.  I could not put it down… but the characters were jerks.  Mutlifaceted jerks, but still.  You should read it.  It was very well done. Then I started The Sellout, but it was a digital loan and I wasn’t super into it, so I have to circle back to it.  The First Bad Man was next on my list…  and I loved it.  I feel weird recommending books that have super bizarre sex in it, but whatever.  It was so weird and funny.  Now I am in the middle of The Outline, which is very well written, but I feel very depressed while I read it.  Once I put it down, it’s hard to start again, but once you get started, you are sucked in.  In and down.    I don’t like to admit to reading self help books, but I am also reading Big Magic on the side, about the creative process/life. and I love it.  It is really speaking to me.  Elizabeth Gilbert was a 50/50 for me.  Loved The Signature of All Things, hated Eat Pray Love.  But it was on the Lucky Day shelf, and I feel the need to have read all the books on there.

Next on the list – finish The Outline and The Sellout and Big Magic.  The unread stack contains The Museum of Extraordinary Things and Dragonfish.

At the end of the year, maybe I will do my own best of list.  What is the best book you have read this year?

** I like to pose Lucy with a stack of books, but that’s way too hard with digital books ands books that have been returned to the library, so click the link (each book in Blue links to Amazon) if you want to know more about the book.  And enjoy this picture of Lucy frolicking.