wasting bandwidth since 1994

TBT: Cousins

Easter, 1979 or 1980.

Cousin P, Cousin S, and me. We are at my grandmother’s house which always looked like that. There’s a holy water receptacle by the door. I wore the yellow dress quite a few times before growing out of it — I think to a wedding and then my brother’s christening. And the bow was crocheted.

Show us your books August 2017

Remember the halcyon days of April when I was all “YEAH! I’M GONNA DO THIS LINKUP THING!” and then two weeks later we got a puppy and in June THINGS happened and I didn’t have time to read? Yeah, me too.

Current TBR pile, paper version.

But now I have some books under my belt again, so here’s the list of things I’ve read since then. I’ll stick with the Goodreads rating system, which is:

One star: did not like it
Two stars: it was ok
Three stars: liked it
Four stars: really liked it
Five stars: it was amazing

Read in July

The Nest — Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
This story about the dysfunctional adult siblings of the Plumb family squabbling over a trust fund kept me rapidly turning pages, despite each character’s trite shortcomings. What I really enjoyed was that the peripheral characters around the Plumb family were also fully-fleshed out humans and not just props for the Plumbs’ shenanigans. You can’t pick your family, but you can choose how you deal with them. Four stars.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue — Melanie Benjamin
This story of giant manbaby Truman Capote and the wealthy society women he sought acceptance from (his “swans”) is definitely a story about a different time and social class. The book was well-written but I emerged being genuinely happy that Truman Capote is dead. What a shitbag. The parts I liked best were the stories of the women themselves, which is what saved this book from two stars. And then Truman would show up being his usual giant manbaby self with his gleeful clapping and weird mother complex. Ugh. Five stars for the ladies, minus 2 stars for Truman Capote the giant manbaby.

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House — Alyssa Mastromonaco
Mastromonaco was Barack Obama’s White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations for 3 years. This a delightful book for people of all ages, not just the YA demographic she was reaching for. I have such issues with the modern worship of YA as a genre. ANYWAY, I’m older than the author and still found her story inspiring because sometimes you have to take chances on employment (and life) opportunities. Four stars.

All the Light We Cannot See — Anthony Doerr
Oh, my heart. Five stars for this gorgeous piece of writing about the effect World War II had on a young French woman and a young German man. She’s the blind daughter of a museum locksmith, he’s an orphan with a uncanny talent for repairing radios. Yes, it gets sad, but my heart was soaring by the end. Loved it. Life-affirming and all of those adjectives you read in the reviews.

Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence — Carol Berkin
This is a very dry and academic take of women’s roles in the Revolutionary war. It was enjoyable because of the subject matter, but hoo boy some chapters were a slog to get through. I did learn quite a lot about the subject and appreciated that the author showed women of different social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds. Three stars but if I were the type who read academic books for pleasure, it would probably be four.

Seven Days of Us — Francesca Hornak
Baby’s first “ARC in exchange for an honest review!” This is a “privileged family with secrets who are stuck in close quarters” story. It’s set (mostly) in an English country home over the Christmas holidays. Of course all the secrets come out, hilariously and awkwardly. Of course every family member is insufferable in ways your immediate family members are. And now I realize that I immensely enjoy these stories of rich families and their inane issues.

On Tap
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life — Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Another of my “discover authors right when they’re about to die/have died” series. See also: Discworld.

My Beloved World — Sonia Sotomayor
I saw this in the “HERstory” section of the Cherry Hill library and said “yes, please.” I continue to feel the urge to read about smart, accomplished women.

Smuggler’s Cove — Martin and Rebecca Cate
It’s mostly tiki cocktail recipes but as I age I’m buying more and more into the beach/retirement/island/Jimmy Buffet thing. I’m beginning to think it’s impossible to get that mindset until you have 2 decades of work behind you and 2 decades to go. :/

You can find all of my reviews on Goodreads and more reviews by other bloggers by clicking on the link below!

Life According to Steph

Salad days

Believe it or not, I am still cooking chicken every Sunday for the week. And although fitness levels wax and wane, I credit these preplanned lunches for keeping me at about the same weight I was last year when I stopped actively dieting.

WM still has his chicken in sandwich form. I usually have mine with a side of steamed mixed vegetables or edamame. Last Sunday I decide to be even more Pinteresty (Pinterestrier?) and make the mason jar salads that were so popular a few years back. I used this site as a reference for how to stack the vegetables in the jar. I also made my own vinaigrette, thanks to Martha Stewart’s basic vinaigrette recipe. Martha forever.

Shamelessly staged photo.

I had my reservations about it but even on the last day of the workweek, the vegetables were still green and/or crispy.

Look at that color!

I packed the jars with dressing, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, almonds, and baby spinach leaves. I cube the chicken and keep it in a separate container and add it to the salad at lunch.

Things I’m doing this week to improve the salads:

> Swap out the almonds for onion.
> Add more garlic and possibly some of my Penzeys stash to the dressing to kick it up.
> Bring a bowl to work for mixing/eating the salad because the paper plates there are small and wasteful.

In the spirit of salad, I leave you with a link to Women Laughing Alone with Salad on The Hairpin. (Which…is back?)

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