I Need Your Suggestions

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This year my book club decided to choose our books a different way than we have in the past. Each month a different member gets to pick the book with no arguments or vetoing. There are only two rules: it must be 400 or less pages and available at several different libraries in the area. The unspoken rules: nothing too dark, violent, sexy or sweary. The first three months of the year we read non-fiction and this month we’ll discuss Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers.

May is my month. And I am having a tough time deciding what we should read. I’ve decided on then quickly discarded about five titles now and am starting to panic. Our meeting isn’t until next week so I have a bit of time to make up my mind, but I’d really love some suggestions. Have you read anything lately that fits our criteria and would be great for a discussion group? Of course, you wouldn’t know about library availability but discounting that do you have any brilliant recommendations? I want to choose a novel and something somewhat shortish. Classic or contemporary. Male or female author. Literary or genre fiction. I just need ideas!

Thanks in advance!

When Life Gives You Lemons…

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Well, not lemons exactly – just allergies, pink eye, horrible headaches and a serious case of the blahs. Needless to say, I’ve not really felt like turning on my computer over the last couple of weeks. I usually zone out in the evenings in front of the TV or go to bed early with Testament of Youth, which is completely wonderful yet a very long and slow read, so I don’t have much to blog about anyway. It might be another week or so before I have a genuine book post for you.

I do hope to get around to all of your blogs this weekend and see what you’ve been up to.

And I actually do have lemons! I was just given another bag full by a co-worker – any good lemon-based recipes to recommend?

Weekend Cooking: Butternut Squash with Brown Butter

Hello! Did you all have a good holiday? Mine was great – I spent lots of time with family but also had quiet times to read, knit and watch some episodes of Poirot on Netflix.

On Christmas morning I got up early to cook a couple of dishes for my family’s lunch and this butternut squash was one of them. It is cooked in brown butter, then caramelized in brown sugar and chicken broth. It was really good and sweet, but I decided to add a bit of interest to it with some feta cheese that I had in my fridge. The combination of the sweet squash and the salty feta was sublime. I’m not sure if my family appreciated it as it was something new among our usual side dishes but I am happy to have discovered a new side that is very easy to make.

What did you cook for the holiday?

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, 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.

Weekend Cooking: Broccoli Cheese Mini Pies

broccoli piesI’ve never done a Weekend Cooking post before, but when I put the above photo on Instagram a few days ago (I’m kinda, sorta back to social media) JoAnn suggested that I make a post out of it and I thought, ‘Why not?’ I love sharing good, easy recipes with others who may be looking for the same kind of no-fuss cooking that I am.

My library had a potluck this week and the theme was PIE. I didn’t want to bring a dessert pie as we usually have an abundance of sweets and not enough savory dishes. After searching online for a while I decided to make these really easy mini pies that you cook in a muffin tin. No, they are not gourmet and not fancy. But they are scrumptious! It’s a Betty Crocker recipe and I made a couple of adaptations – no chicken as my boss is a vegetarian and I used fresh broccoli instead of frozen.

When I put them out on the table on Wednesday morning they gleaned lots of interest and were gone within an hour. A successful and, I think, repeatable dish which is wonderful as we have tons of potlucks at work and I now have another dish to add to my rotating repertoire.

 

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, 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.

Scenes from Oxford

 

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The day my friend and I went to Oxford the weather wavered from bitterly cold, rainy and gloomy to sunny and crisply lovely. When we arrived in the city the wind was cutting and as we walked into town from the train station my cheeks froze and I wished I had worn a warmer coat. All through our all-too-short visit we ducked into shops (we spent quite a bit of time in Cath Kidston and Waterstones) when the rain came and ventured out again when it stopped. The weather in England can be truly insane! The day we visited was during Freshers Week so there weren’t too many students around, but there were still lots of bicycles.

I think the cold and the threatening rain stopped me from taking many photos, which I’m disappointed about.  I thought Oxford was beautiful and I wish I would have explored more of it – that will be a goal on my next trip. Here is a selection of the photos I did take:

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends! I hope you have a lovely time with family and friends and partake of some excellent food. Mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce are on the agenda for me today – and pie. Lots of pie.

If you aren’t American – Happy Thursday! Pie would be an excellent way to celebrate an ordinary Thursday, too.

I am so thankful for the friends I’ve made through blogging and I am grateful for the conversations we share.

Have a wonderful day!

Sunday Bulletin – November 23

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Yesterday I went in to work for a few hours to set-up a program on container gardening. We have an entire sustainability series at my library which I normally don’t have much to do with, but our two staff members who run the series were both on vacation so I was asked to fill in. And I’m so glad I did. My new found love of plants and gardening was really enhanced by learning about creating a beautiful garden using containers. As I don’t have a yard this is perfect for me. The class was taught by Master Gardener Cherie Czaplicki and she was wonderful. We learned all about the challenges to gardening in Phoenix and how to overcome them. And I left the class with my own starter plant – an elephant’s foot succulent. I can’t wait to buy some pots, plants and soil and start gardening!

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This was probably the highlight of my week as I had some unpleasant things going on otherwise such as a heated argument in my book club that almost led to a member quitting, horrible allergies and an incredibly painful tailbone situation.

Books finished this week:

The Solitary Summer by Elizabeth Von Arnim – In this sequel to Elizabeth and Her German Garden, Elizabeth decides to spend a whole summer alone with her family and her garden – no visitors, no house parties. Her husband, The Man of Wrath, doesn’t think she can last a whole summer without people, but she manages to get along just fine even though she does have a few unwanted visitors who interrupt her peaceful idyll. I enjoyed this book, though it is quite thin on plot. Most of the book is Elizabeth’s musings on plants, books and reading, her children and philosophy. It is very amusing and very lovely – just the kind of book for a week when you are feeling low. Von Arnim always makes me laugh and makes me think – two things I highly esteem.

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Is anyone else on Librarything? I noticed that the Persephone group there is not very active. If anyone wants to join the group to discuss all things Persephone you can go here.

Have a great Sunday!