Book Talk Tuesday: Bittersweet

Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist
Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

I enjoyed Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist and I loved Cold Tangerines: The Play produced by Little Candle Productions in South Pasadena in June.

So I bumped Bread & Wine to the top of my Kindle’s TBR file.

Like Niequist’s first book, Bread & Wine is a collection of essays but is also much more. It’s part memoir, part commentary on the lost art of food and conversation, and part cook book.

Many of the included recipes sound delicious and I can’t wait to try them. Which is what, I believe, prompted Niequist to include them: so we’d be inspired to cook a little and invite someone over to share the meal and the conversation.

It’s obvious Niequist loves to cook but not just for cooking’s sake. She loves to cook for her family and loved ones. She enjoys making a meal an occasion to slow down, eat with enjoyment, and share conversations.

For the last several months, we’ve been sharing dinner every Wednesday night with a friend. I’m inspired to either broaden our net a little and add some other people around the table, or to add another weekly evening for sharing meals and conversation. Some of our favorite vacation memories are the conversations shared around the dinner table, whether the meal was around the campstove or a 5-star restaurant table. Although, there have been far more campstove meals than 5-star restaurants.

But that’s kind of the point. The meal doesn’t have to be fancy. It just needs to be shared.

Bread & Wine is a fairly quick read, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Media Monday: The Armchair Adventurer

The Amazing Race cast, Season 25
The Amazing Race cast, Season 25

I didn’t watch Season 1 of The Amazing Race, but I’ve seen all the other seasons. Number 25 just started last week.

I’ve seen the contestants race around Europe, and Asia, and Africa. I’ve watched them shave their heads, dare to confront their fears by jumping out of planes or off buildings, and eat some truly disgusting stuff.

I’m an armchair adventurer, hear me whimper.

My daughter, the Lovely Oldest, and I have applied to be on the show but they keep losing our paperwork.

We don’t live in the same house any longer, and we DVR the show but we often text back and forth about it.

Someone finding our phones would think we were speaking in secret code.

ME: #1 rule?


Me: Shank it.

LO: No, Rank it.

And on it goes.

While I would love that kind of adventure, another part of me knows that I’d be cast as the fat, old, non-athlete who’d likely be eliminated at the end of the first leg.

But I can dream. Which I will do all during this season. We left the teams Friday night in the US Virgin Islands, dripping wet, but eager to continue the adventure.

Food Talk Friday: Confessions of a Foodie

I’m inaugurating a new weekly blog topic.

Friday’s are for talking about food.

It might be a recipe, or an ingredient, or a television show, or even a food memory, but every Friday stop by here for a few thoughts about the stuff that keeps us fed, nourished, and feeling loved.

Monday, I reviewed two food movies and two of the books in my upcoming Tuesday posts are books about food. One is about the fellowship and love we share around the table as we cook and eat. The other is a compilation of food writing.

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

While I’m typing this, a food show is on the television and I’m trying not to let myself be distracted. The Best Thing I Ever Ate is extolling garlic. Garlic burgers, garlic spaghetti, garlic soup, and garlic with shrimp, and garlic sausage. And the show is only half over.

Oy vey.

I’m not a food blogger. I’m not a food stylist. I don’t have a fancy camera. I’m not a nutritionist. I have no culinary training. I’m just a good home cook married to another. We enjoy cooking (admittedly, he enjoys it more than I do), eating, and talking about food. We read recipes, cookbooks, magazines. We love movies about food. Our television in usually on The Food Network. The DVR is full of back episodes of Chopped, Iron Chef America, and Cutthroat Kitchen. One of the best events we attended in 2012 was an evening with Alton Brown.

I hope you’ll be back next week. I’m thinking a recipe will be our topic. But we’ll see…

What do you look for in a food blog?

Woe! It’s Wednesday: The Truth is the Best Defense? Or the Only Defense?

Because most all my friends are nice and considerate people, I don’t generally see too many trolls online. But I have noticed an increase in admonishing and finger-pointing posts and comments.

Typically, someone posts about a problem solved or crisis averted or even asks a simple question.

Yay! I learned to put on my socks!


Example: YAY! I finally figured out how to put on my socks. Those stripes and the ankle bendy parts were sooo confusing!

The replies vary from happy and encouraging:

  • Oh, good for you!
  • What’s the secret? So happy you figured it out.
  • So, share the knowledge!!?!

To … a bit less happy:

  • You’re such a dork. Glad you got it.
  • Yep, those “ankle bendy parts” are hard for blondes.

To downright rude:

  • Really? You think they’re hard?
  • Wow, I guess I never realized socks were so confusing. But I’m glad you persevered.

To completely inappropriate, not to mention irrelevant:

  • Don’t you know socks are ruining the planet? You should NEVER wear socks if you want to reduce carbon emissions and leave the earth a greener planet for future generations.
  • You’re posting about socks? That’s as irritating as someone’s picture of their dinner. You should only share news that’s worth sharing.

And worst of all, the BSP (Blatant Self-Promotion):

  • If socks give you trouble, check out my new website, just for the foot accessory challenged. I think you’ll like it! And pass it on.
  • I have a blog post about how to put on socks correctly for the post-modern parent. Here’s the link …

Maybe my posts are too bland to offend, but I’m blessed to say this is not a problem I have, just one I’ve observed.

I did have an interesting experience last week. A friend posted a list on a social media site, one of those, “I can’t believe stupid people out there exist who would say this” kinds of posts. It was a list of quotes, labeling all the speakers as uneducated bigots, chauvinists, and potential abusers and perverts. And all those quoted were identified by their political affiliation.

never respond to those kinds of posts. Never. Well, not since I got pilloried a couple of years ago for pointing out the inconsistencies in the poster’s own original statements.

Anyway, I rarely respond.

But this one irked me. I looked up a few of the people quoted and found what I’d guessed to be true: the quotes were either taken out of context, mis-quoted or otherwise erroneous.

I exhaled. I wrote a response. I deleted it. I walked around the room. I wrote it again. I edited it. Took a deep breath. And clicked Post comment.

My (edited to protect–well, me) comment:

There’s enough stupidity in the country to go around without labeling it by political party. After all, Joe B* said, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” If B* can be forgiven and voted for, I think the others should at least get a closer look at the circumstances and context. W*** was quoting B* K*. A* spoke without thinking. A friend and I were talking once about date rape and she mentioned “rape-rape vs. date rape.” I said, “But date rape is rape-rape.” She realized immediately what she’d said and felt horrible. I would never bring that up years later to humiliate her. I also wouldn’t bring up B*’s plagiarism all these years later. Oops, except I guess I did.

I expected to be mocked, derided, and condescended to.

In fact, I heard … nothing.

Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.


That’s it. Mine is the final comment on that post.

And I had a little epiphany. When you respond with the truth, there is nothing else to be said.

Oh, how I pray for wisdom and discernment to be able to speak truth when appropriate. And when to shut up because it’s not the time.

Who’s with me?

Book Talk Tuesday: Evergreen

It’s no secret I’m a huge Susan May Warren fan. She’s just released a novella, Evergreen, a Christmas story in her Christiansen Family series. Evergreen is about the parents of the Christiansen siblings, John and Ingrid, home in Deep Haven with a newly emptied nest.

Evergreen by Susan May Warren
Evergreen by Susan May Warren

John has planned a surprise trip to Europe for Christmas for Ingrid. He wants to renew their vows on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, a romantic gesture that he’s certain will wake Ingrid from the funk she’s fallen into since her last chick has flown the coop.

But the man can’t catch a break.

Ingrid volunteers to head up the community live Nativity. And their nephew needs a place to live for a few months. And John suddenly learns that what he thought Ingrid could snap out of, is much deeper, something that he has no idea how to fix.

Evergreen is the perfect read for a crisp fall or winter afternoon.

Unfortunately, here in California, temperatures were still in the 90s when I read the book last week. I couldn’t snuggle under a warm throw or curl up with hot chocolate or a cup of coffee.

And it didn’t matter in the least. I loved the book. The snowy atmosphere of Evergreen translated from the page into my mind and I shivered along with the characters. As empty nesters ourselves, our related to some of John and Ingrid’s feelings and situations. Susan nailed it.

If you’re an empty nester, what surprised you that you weren’t expecting  about this stage of life? If you’re not an empty nester, is this a season of life you’re looking forward to or dreading?