Recommendations

Lately | December

This is a snapshot of my life in December 2014. You can see all my Lately posts here.

Lately December >> Life In Limbo

Trying out a trial of Spotify Premium and loving it.

Listening to Tenerife Sea and this remix of Thinking Out Loud. (Basically, Ed Sheeran.) Oh, and Pop Danthology.

Watching House of Cards and The Mindy Project whenever I feel like watching an episode of something.

Eating a lot of homemade pad thai after my mom and I finally found a bottle of the sauce, cheese and crackers, and clementines.

Looking forward to my vacation in Boracay!

Adding some lovely things to my wishlist to save up for.

Keeping a gratitude journal and it’s like my own little book of lovely.

Learning as much Spanish as I can through Memrise and Duolingo.

Playing Serial and Dear Sugar Radio with hearts in my eyes.

Drinking a ton of tea and hot water with lemon.

Wanting to see this movie and this movie ASAP. I also can’t wait for Girls Season 4.

Loving Buffer and Snapchat.

Proud of my year in reading.

Wearing lots of cozy sweaters and my wooden prayer beads that mom bought for me.

Sad to be away from home this Christmas. It’s really hard. But:

Grateful (very) for FaceTime to keep me in touch with my loved ones.

Wishing you a very happy holiday week. Hope there is lots of mulled wine and cozy fireplaces and good books ahead for you.

Book Club | January & February

Book Club J+F

One of my resolutions for 2014 is to read 75 books. I accomplished this goal last year, but I also had a lot more free time (I was traveling without responsibilities for 3 months of it!) and as I’ve written before, I didn’t feel like I was reading “bravely”. In 2014 I want to read challenging books with depth, because those are usually the ones that leave an impression on me. In the spirit of this goal, I’ll be sharing my favourite books every month or so on the blog. 

The Defining DecadeI watched her TED talk and immediately knew I wanted to read the book. First of all, I’m so glad I’m discovering this information about how to make the most of your twenties while I’m actually in my twenties. Her tips are straightforward and smart, and she is not afraid to challenge us twenty-somethings to push ourselves and examine our own limiting beliefs. I find myself bringing up ideas from this book in conversation with others, such as the idea of identity capital or of really mapping out a timeline of the coming years to get a true sense of how much time you have. 

Sisterland / Curtis Sittenfeld is one of my favourite authors, and I’ve been looking forward to this book for a few years now. Happily, I wasn’t disappointed one bit. I think her greatest strength is being able to put into words some of the subtle feelings, situations and small details we all experience in our lives. Her ability to do that brings such a realness to her writing and makes it so much more relatable. The premise of this book involves psychic ability which sort of threw me off at first, but of course she’s so talented she can pull it off believably. I also loved this interview she did about the book.

The Remains of the Day / On the surface, it’s a simple story about a longtime English butler going on a road trip across England. This was another very subtle book: it doesn’t hit you over the head with its message, but it rings through clear as day. It’s told in the first person, which is even more interesting because the narrator is a little unreliable and his telling of the story is naturally clouded by his beliefs, judgments and misunderstandings. It’s actually quite a heartbreaking story in the end, but a beautiful novel. 

David and Goliath / I absolutely adore Malcolm Gladwell’s work. He’s unafraid of controversial theories and radical ideas, and I love that his essays always challenge me to consider things differently. This book offers that the way we think about disadvantages and advantages is flawed and limited, and the way we see underdogs is often wrong as well. I zipped through this one, but it was fascinating and enjoyed talking to my family about some of its ideas. 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? / I really loved this book. It was very, very funny, often in quiet, clever ways. I liked that it explored misunderstandings and confusion and crossed wires, and that the characters were flawed but self-reflexive and smart. It was thoroughly enjoyable and just a little bit silly. 

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As always, you can see all the books I’ve read and plan to read on GoodReads. Also, if you have any great book recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them! Let me know in the comments below. 

Retail Therapy

If you have time to kill this weekend, as I do not, here are my recommendations for you. I love giving advice, as preachy as possible (!) but it is only because what I love, I love a LOT and feel the need to seriously share it with others. So listen, because all of these things will rock your socks off.

The Recipe: Bonnie Stern’s Recipe for Caramelized Onion And Gorgonzola Pizza which is probably the most seriously comforting comfort food in existance. The first time that I ate it, a cold rainy Friday night (which is the best time for comfort food anyways so maybe the context made it taste so miraculous) I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Not joking. It’s simple and relatively quick, however seeing as how it’s shaping up to be a pretty warm evening, you might want to save it for a rainy day. Either way, it’s definitely worth a try. Here’s the recipe:

Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Pizza
(Makes 6 to 8 servings)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
8 oz. frozen puffed pastry
4 oz. Brie, rind removed, diced*
4 oz. milk Gorgonzola or Cambozola, rind removed, diced*
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon, or 1/4 tsp. dried

1. Heat oil in a large deep skillet on medium high heat. Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes or until wilted and starting to brown. Add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper.
2. Reduce heat and cook gently, uncovered, for 15 to 25 minutes, or until richly caramelized. Cool. You should have about 3/4 cup.
3. Roll pastry into a 10-in. square. Place pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Prick with a fork in about 12 places.
4. Spread onions over pastry. Dot with cheese. Sprinkle with tarragon. Refrigerate if not baking immediately.
5. Bake in preheated oven 18 to 20 minutes or until cheese has melted and pastry is crisp. Cool for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges or squares.
6. Serve pizza in wedges with a salad for a first course or cut into small squares for an appetizer.

*You can use those cheeses, but from personal experience, all soft cheeses work nicely. We typically use Boursin, which is basically garlic cream cheese, and also some goat cheese. Either way, delicious. 

The Music: 

For People Feeling Romantic: ‘Come On Get Higher’ – Matt Nathanson (cliché, but catchy)

For People Who Want To Feel Loved: ‘So Far Around the Bend’ – The National

For People Feeling Sad Over Love: ‘Train Song’ – Feist and Benjamin Gibbard

For People Who Want To Party: ‘Boom Boom Pow’ – The Black Eyed Peas

The Book:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith was my most recent read, and my verdict: HILARIOUS. At first, I thought it was sort of a joke, but as I read on I realized it isn’t scary, it isn’t overly funny, it isn’t overly anything. It really is just the original story, original writing, original lines and genius, teamed up with a theme that somehow just works in the time period, works well with the characters and even in some instances (sorry Jane!) makes the plot better. It begins to make more sense of some of the already present themes and just does an amazing job of working the zombies right into the story. I’d never been able to get into the original classic (despite having seen the movie 50+ times) yet I read this like it was candy. Definitely check it out. Also worth a read:

‘Direct Red’ – Gabriel Weston

‘The Tipping Point’ – Malcolm Gladwell

The Activity:

Get outside for Pete’s sake! I’m not even going to recommend a movie, since you should be outside sitting in the sun, listening to guitar or walking your dog or having a barbeque and ESPECIALLY not sitting here reading this or missing the weather. Get out!

Love, 

s.

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