Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Rome: So Much Old



I've always wanted to visit Italy. My grandpap's people were from Lucca, and his family often told stories about their lives in Italy as olive oil merchants and as hunting companions of Puccini. Not sure how accurate that is, but it was certainly compelling to me.

To celebrate my husband's retirement and my retirement from our jobs, and to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, my sister put together a dream trip for us to Italy.

I can't talk about Italy without gushing like a star-struck teenage girl: Italy is beautiful. The food in Italy is magnificent. Italy is ancient. Italy is amazing.

Here are some pictures from our visit to the Colosseum in Rome.


This was the view from our apartment in Rome on our first day.
Our husbands were waiting for my sister and me to get ready for the day. 


My first impression of the Colosseum: big. It's big. 
It baffles me how something so big could have been built so long ago and still stand. 

My second impression of the Colosseum: There were a lot of people. 
Enormous lines of people who had been waiting since the sun came up to get in. 
Lots of fellows offering to help you get past the long lines.
It was quite impossible. 
We decided to be happy with a look from the outside.



Take a close look. See those people way, way up there.
They are working on the Colosseum.
It's a long way up there.
Would you want to work on the Colosseum?


For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.



Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Favorite Book Blogs if You Want to Up Your Reading Game



I've been blogging for ten years. I have many, many favorite book blogger friends out there.  I've met so many friendly, kind people.

Perhaps you'd like to make some new book blogging friends. Here's my list of book bloggers I visit frequently. Visit their blogs and leave a comment. Repeat. Repeat. You will quickly make friends with these wonderful bloggers.




Perhaps you are interested in upping your reading game. I encourage you to join the Classics Club. Simply make a list of fifty or more classics you'd like to try to read in the next five years and post it on your blog. Share your post with the Classics Club and you will be part of this great group. Classics Club bloggers dare to read intimidating books.

Here is a members list of those who have joined the Classics Club. Some of the Classics Club bloggers are people I've followed for many years. Take a look at their classics lists for ideas. You also may want to follow them, too. You might like to take a look at the Classics Club lists of those of the moderators of the club for great suggestions:




Brona's Books (Bron)

What, Me Read? (Kay) 

Books in Bloom (Margaret)


If you are curious, here is my Classics Club list.



Do you have any recommendations for me? 



Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Austen in August: First Thoughts



I thought it would be love at first sight. It wasn't it.

Jane Austen is everything contemporary America is not. Jane Austen has no real plot points; no buildings explode, and no diabolical schemes to control the world appear in her stories. But Jane Austen isn't wispy either, no light read, no little summer story, not just a bit of romantic fluff.

Jane Austen is completely unexpected. A Jane Austen book is a solid two hundred pages of people in beautiful but uncomfortable clothing, standing around in lovely but uncomfortable homes, talking together, beautifully but uncomfortably.

I thought about turning my copy of Persuasion back into the library. I resisted.

I stuck with Jane.

Jane grew on me.

Jane Austen is clever and intricate; it helps to have an annotated edition of your Austen and to watch the four hour BBC movie of the book and a Jane Austen reference book or two. Jane Austen is subtle; I've missed subtle. Jane Austen builds, rewarding patience and persistence and all those wonderful old-fashioned virtues of the past, as it culminates in a just and genuine ending.

I've been reading Jane Austen for ten days now. I'm reading Carol Shields' bio of Jane as well. And, just for fun, I'm browsing through Jane Austen for Dummies.

I finished Persuasion. I will go on to read all six of Jane's novels. I am completely surprised to discover that I have grown to respect her and admire Jane Austen. So I urge you to persist. Have patience. Read Jane Austen. We need Jane Austen in our world today, I think.



What do you think about Jane Austen? 
Do you have any tips to offer? Suggestions? 
Are you doing Austen in August? 
Which novels of Austen's have you read?



Austen in August is a celebration of all things Jane Austen, featuring reviews, discussions, vlogs, giveaways, interviews and more. This event runs all of the month of August. Faith Hope and Cherrytea has also created an Austen in August Instagram challenge for the month of August.  To find out more about the Austen in August Instagram challenge, visit Faith Hope and Cherrytea. To find out more about Austen in August, visit The Book Rat.

What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've 
wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound
 journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....That's what happens 
at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their 
own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, 
mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!  
This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” 
book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now being hosted at The Book Date.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

We Visit Pakistan

One of the things I loved to do in my school library was to visit other countries. One of the last places we visited last school year was Pakistan. 

One of the parents at my school was born in Pakistan and shared some clothing, some household items, and even some food from Pakistan with the children in my school



Afterward, of course, I read them stories set in Pakistan: Four Feet, Two Sandals, a poignant story of two refugee girls who share a pair of sandals; and For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai's Story, a children's biography of a girl in Pakistan who dared to speak up for the right for girls to get an education.







We loved visiting Pakistan.



For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.





Tuesday, August 7, 2018

If You Mashed Together Some of Your Favorite Books...

Let's do this for fun, shall we?

I have 106 books on my Must-Read list at Goodreads. I'll assign a number to each title. Let me use the Random Number Service to choose five sets of two numbers and let's see what books we can mash up.

Here goes the spin....




#71 and #103: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Franz Kafka's The Castle

Plot of ZAMM: The book is the author's fictionalized autobiography of a 17-day journey he made on a motorcycle from Minnesota to Northern California along with his son Chris. The trip is punctuated by numerous philosophical discussions.


Plot of Kafka's The Castle: A protagonist known only as K. arrives in a village and struggles to gain access to the mysterious authorities who govern it from a castle. 


Mashed-up Plot:  A man known only as K and his son ride on a motorcycle from Minnesota to a village in Northern California, with numerous philosophical discussions along the way, and struggle to gain access to the mysterious authorities who govern the village from a castle.

In Short: Mysterious Castle + Philosophical Discussions + Motorcycle Ride




#19 and #15: For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Wrinkle in Time

Plot of For Whom the Bell TollsIt tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to a republican guerrilla unit during the Spanish Civil War. As a dynamiter, he is assigned to blow up a bridge during an attack on the city of Segovia.

Plot of A Wrinkle in Time: Thirteen-year-old Meg Murray travels with three supernatural beings, Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which, across time and space to a dark planet to rescue her father who is captive there.

Mashed-up Plot: Thirteen-year-old Meg Murray and a young American man, Robert Jordan, travel with three supernatural beings, across time and space to a dark planet in order to blow up a bridge to rescue Meg's father who is held captive during the Spanish Civil War.

In Short: Witches + Bombs + Bridge + Dark Planet + Spanish Civil War




#86 and #71: Old Yeller and Millions of Cats


Plot of Old Yeller: The Coates family reluctantly takes in a stray old yellow dog who soon proves his worth by rescuing family members from a bear, a bunch of wild hogs, and a wolf.

Plot of Millions of Cats: An elderly couple are lonely, so the husband wanders far from home and finds a hillside covered with "millions and billions and trillions of cats." The cats follow him home.

Mashed-up Plot: It is pretty clear what will happen when an old yellow dog, who easily dispensed with a bear, a bunch of wild hogs, and a wolf, meets up with millions and billions and trillions of cats.

In Short: Dog + Millions of Cats



#76 and #102: Frankenstein and The Three Musketeers

Plot of Frankenstein: Frankenstein is a novel written by English author Mary Shelley (1797–1851) that tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a grotesque but sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment.

Plot of Three Musketeers: It recounts the adventures of a young man named d'Artagnan after he leaves home to travel to Paris, to join the Musketeers of the Guard and befriends the three most formidable musketeers of the age—AthosPorthos and Aramis.

Mashed-up Plot: A young man named d'Artagnan and the three most formidable musketeers of the age---Athos, Porthos, and Aramis---are joined in their journey to Paris by a grotesque but sapient creature from in an unorthodox scientific experiment.

In Short: Musketeers + Monster + Journey to Paris




#104 and #25: Don Quixote and How the Grinch Stole Christmas


Plot of Don Quixote: The story follows the adventures of a noble named Alonso Quixano who reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his sanity and decides to set out to revive chivalry, undo wrongs, and bring justice to the world, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha.

Plot of How the Grinch Stole Christmas:  It follows the Grinch, a grouchy, solitary creature who attempts to put an end to Christmas by stealing Christmas-themed items from the homes of the nearby town Whoville on Christmas Eve. Despite his efforts, Whoville's inhabitants still celebrate the holiday, so the Grinch returns everything that he stole and is the guest of honor at the Whos' Christmas dinner.

Mashed-up Plot: A noble named Don Quixote and a grouchy, solitary creature named the Grinch set out together to revive chivalry, undo wrongs, bring justice to the world by stealing all the Christmas-themed items from the homes of the nearby town of Whoville on Christmas Eve.

In Short: Nobleman + Grinch + Stealing 




What do you think? Would you read any of these mash-ups?




Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

It's August, and It's Time for a Month of Jane Austen



AUSTEN IN AUGUST


Paris in July was a glorious month of reading and writing and cooking. Where shall I go next?



Sometimes life is delightfully serendipitous. I've just become one of the four new moderators of The Classics Club. My face-to-face book club is reading Persuasion this August. And I've just discovered a wonderful event called Austen in August.

I believe I shall join in.


Here's what my library had on Jane:


Ordinary Extraordinary Jane Austen by Deborah Hopkinson (picture book biography)
Jane Austen for Dummies
Searching for Jane Austen by Emily Auerbach
What Matters in Jane Austen? Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved by John Mullan
Student Companion to Jane Austen by Debra Teachman
Readings on Jane Austen
Jane Austen (Penguin Lives) by Carol Shields
A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things that Matter 
The Annotated Persuasion


Austen in August is a celebration of all things Jane Austen, featuring reviews, discussions, vlogs, giveaways, interviews and more. This event runs all of the month of August. Faith Hope and Cherrytea has also created an Austen in August Instagram challenge for the month of August.  To find out more about the Austen in August Instagram challenge, visit Faith Hope and Cherrytea. To find out more about Austen in August, visit The Book Rat.


I'm looking forward to a month of Jane.



 Have you read a lot of Jane Austen?
Will you be joining in this month for Austen in August?
How will you participate?




What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've 
wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound
 journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....That's what happens 
at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their 
own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, 
mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!  
This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” 
book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now being hosted at The Book Date.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Muffins and Biscuits


I love making breads. 

I've always been good at making biscuits. I usually use my Grandma Ashley's biscuit recipe. I've even dared, in the past, to put my Grandma Ashley's biscuit recipe up against other people's biscuits (see my post from September of 2012, The Pioneer Woman vs. Grandma).

I was happy to snag a copy of Heidi Gibson's Muffins and Biscuits from Chronicle Books at last year's BookExpo in New York City. This week, I finally got a chance to try the recipe I've always wanted to try: Ultra-Flaky Biscuits.



The result? Amazing flavor. Light buttery layers. The best biscuits I've ever tasted.

Here's the recipe. 


ULTRA-FLAKY BISCUITS

14 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 3/4 cups flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
1 egg
3/4 c. buttermilk

1. In a large bowl, toss the butter with 1 Tbsp. flour until evenly coated. Put in a small bowl and place in freezer for about 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. In the same large bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk.

3. Remove the butter from the freezer, add it to the flour mixture, and toss gently with a wooden spoon until the butter is evenly distributed. Cut the butter into the flour with a knife until marble-size chunks of butter are visible.

4. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and toss gently until the dough just starts to clump together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the flour to fully hydrate. 

5. Dust the countertop with flour. Scrape out the dough from the bowl. Coat your hands with flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 3/4 inches thick, with the long side about twice as long as the short side. Starting at one of the short ends, carefully fold the dough into thirds. Turn the dough so the open end is facing you, and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into another 1/2 inch thick rectangle and fold into thirds like the first time. Repeat the turning, rolling, and folding two more times. Wrap in plastic and return to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

7. Use the biscuit cutter dipped in flour between each cut and press straight down without twisting and cut out as many biscuits as possible. Gather the scraps, press them together, and preroll to cut as many additional biscuits as possible. (The biscuits from the second set may not be as pretty as the first, but they will be just as delicious.) 

8. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet. Bake until puffed and golden brown, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, 12 to 15 minutes.



I love all the additional helpful comments the author includes in the recipe. If you are a baker, you really should get the book.





For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and 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. For more information, see the welcome post.