Tag Archives: books

Wordless Wednesday: Books and Records

via Apartment Therapy: Philip & Leona’s Wide Open Loft

Meatless Mondays: Lentil Sloppy Joes

A couple Mondays ago, my mom told me she was tired of eating meat all the time. She wanted us to branch out from the usual rotation of recipes and takeout while also meeting my brother’s and my dietary needs (my brother and I are both living at home right now). I was elated. I love meat, but I love “rabbit food” just a little bit more. So we have instituted Meatless Mondays in our home and I am determined to see it through as long as I live here.

One thing that has made this transition easy so far (I know, it’s just one meal a week, but my parents are born-and-bred-meat-and-potatoes people) is that I help out with the cooking a lot as is. Now the extra authority is mine for the taking. Another thing that’s helped is that it’s summer, and to say my parents have green thumbs is an understatement (my dad’s a nurseryman, my mom is a natural gardener and a California native plant enthusiast). They grow tomatoes every summer along with a rotation of other fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes are my life force in the summer: I love tomato sandwiches for any meal (toast bread, spread mayo, add tomato, sprinkle with salt and pepper). And the tomatoes from our backyard are just large and gnarly enough so that one slice can cover a whole slice of bread.

But man cannot not rely on tomato sandwiches alone. So last week some friends pointed me to numerous vegan/veggie blogs and recipes. For my first official Meatless Monday meal, I made lentil sloppy joes from Post Punk Kitchen:

They were great! The next day after I came home from my internship, I microwaved the leftovers with some rice from Sunday night and it tasted even better.

Tonight, I’m making Golden Lentil Soup (with green lentils left over from sloppy joe ingredients) from Zov’s cookbook (Zov is one of our hometown celebrities here in Tustin). I’ve made this soup many times before, but never in a Crock Pot. Crossing my fingers that it goes well.

Last weekend:

Reeling from a phone call inviting me for a job interview!! + Talking about books with friends on shady patios + Pliny the Elder on tap at TBC + Veggie nachos + Malbec + Pretty sunsets + Coffee on rainy mornings + Finishing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban + Experimenting with quinoa

Bad to Good

This weekend started off pretty terribly. I was in a funk on Thursday and couldn’t get myself out. On Friday, things seemed to be improving only slightly. But after eating some Jalapenos potato tacos with a friend and shrimp louis salad with my grandma (I did a lot of eating this weekend), my world was right-side-up again.

It also helped that these guys came in the mail:

On Saturday morning I drove down to Corona Del Mar for a bonfire. I got there at 10 only to find that all of the firepits were taken. So I read my Bill Bryson book for an hour while I waited for Ryan to show up and also to see if a pit would miraculously open up for us. Nothing. We gave up, drove back to Tustin, and went to Tustin Brewing Co. before meeting with more friends for a BBQ to take place of the bonfire. I dined on sausageless Italian sausage from Trader Joe’s and tried many beers that we all got at Total Wine before the BBQ:

After all of that excitement, I needed to relax on Sunday. Instead, I went to the gym in the morning, cleaned my bathroom, and helped my mom pick out a new pair of glasses. THEN I relaxed: read lots of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, watched the sunset from my porch, and listened to music. Super perfect Sunday evening.

Improvising

Today didn’t go exactly as planned. Let’s examine, 500 Days of Summer style.

Another photo from Saturday since today was uneventful. My friend Young would make such a good blogger. He took photos of everything he ate. I did not.

Expectation: Arrive at work early. Sit at desk, plug in earbuds, watch Lynda.com tutorials for the software I’m learning for my internship. Get inspired. Write.

Reality: Arrive at work early. Notice other interns have nabbed all computers available. Employees stare at me, probably wondering what I’m doing standing in the hallway. Engineer leads me to an empty cubicle. Decide to leave and work from home/somewhere with free wifi.

Expectation: Arrive at home and get super productive!

Reality: Let’s just say that I am surprised I ever got my degree through a distance education program by working from home. Next time, library.

Expectation: Go to dentist appointment at 4 PM. Come home, traumatized, nauseous, zone out in front of a screen of some type.

Reality: Go to dentist. Get along super well with hygienist. Come home, put on gym clothes. Go to gym. Come back home, sign up for Lynda.com, write this blog post.

Things I loved today:

+ my outfit + finishing Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets + getting a compliment on my nail color + taking a nap + a grilled ham and cheese sandwich + sunshine + Buddy Holly – “Rave On” + feeling productive RIGHT NOW. See ya!

Thoughts on Reading

two books next to a plate of sushi and two glasses of wine

I find myself particularly intrigued by younger people who have heard their cohort called “The Dumbest Generation,” who are continually told that their addiction to multiple simultaneous stimuli renders them incapable of the seriously focused and singleminded attention that the reading of big thick books requires. Some of them are defiant in response to such charges, but most at least half-believe them. Told over and over again that they can’t read, they begin to wonder why they should even try.

– Excerpt from Alan Jacobs’ The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

I once heard someone make the comment that we spend most of our lives  staring at glowing rectangles.

I have a list of books that I want to have read. Sometimes I want to have read a book so badly that it sucks the joy out of the actual process of reading. I cram. Then, when someone wants to talk about the book, I can’t remember a thing about it. I can’t even tell them what I liked or disliked about it.

As a child I read voraciously. Now I find it difficult to sit still in silence and JUST read. There are occasions when I am overcome with the desire to sit and read, and it usually happens during the most inopportune times. When I’m shelving books in the fiction section of the library, for example, all of a sudden my legs start to give the moment I find an interesting book and I have to fight not to sit down in the middle of the aisle, propped against a book cart. It helps to think about how disgusting public library carpets are. But I wish those moments would happen when I’m in my room, staring at my own bookshelves.

3. My Antonia by Willa Cather

I wish there was more of Antonia in this book, but I had to keep reminding myself that this was supposed to be written from the narrator’s (Jim Burden) memory. So it kind of made up for Antonia’s character being somewhat flat.  I did really enjoy Jim and Antonia’s friendship. Jim is a stand up guy! My favorite character was Lena Lingard, the town hussy who grew up to be a totally awesome and successful dressmaker but still lived by her own rules. Sorry, Antonia.

My favorite part of the book was the story of why Peter and Pavel, two minor characters, came to the United States. I won’t give it away, but it was pretty horrifying to read even compared to the other dark moments in the book. It was captivating.

Finally, I still can’t say ANtonia. I believe it was Jim who equated it to saying “Anthony,” but the extra syllable at the end of Antonia trips me up every time.

2. Just Kids by Patti Smith

Just Kids is the story of Patti Smith and the late Robert Mapplethorpe.  The one she promised him she would tell. It’s beautifully poetic and unapologetic.  They have this seemingly impossible connection, devoid of greed or jealousy over each others’ artistic pursuits and full of loving support.

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I must go to bed!

1. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I wish my teachers assigned this book when I was a senior in high school (some parents can’t allow their nearly-adult kids to learn about racism, rape, and teen pregnancy). I was so impressed by Maya Angelou’s ability to observe and remember the details of her life as a young girl, as a student, as an older sister, as an African American living in pre-Civil Rights Era Arkansas, and as a resident of WWII-era San Francisco, and weave them into a poetic autobiography in which every passage is meaningful.

I didn’t really plan it, but I’m also glad to have read this over the MLK Jr. holiday. Reading a book set mostly in the South and rife with depictions of civil injustices tends to give more meaning to the holiday, you know?

Break’s almost over

Before winter break began I made a list of everything I wanted to do before January 26, 2011, the beginning of what will probably be the most stressful semester of library school. The following are items that I actually completed or worked on:

Read for fun! I have a list of 175 books to read. OK, that was misleading. I have a list of 175 books to read total, not just during winter break. I read On the Road, finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and started I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Next up: Just Kids by Patti Smith (thanks Santa).
Go to the gym at least 3x a week. I’m surprised I’ve managed to stick with this one, but I’m so glad I did. Working out has become a habit for me and I have a feeling I will need its benefits during the upcoming semester. I hope to write more about this in an upcoming post that is not to be mistaken for medical advice.
Make cookies and share them with people. Everything I baked is in my holiday baking post. When I started amping up my workouts I naturally stopped baking. I miss it, but I don’t need the temptation of a tiny 90 calorie peanut butter cookie.
Be a good intern. Really nervous. I can’t speak to the quality of my intern work because I haven’t started yet, but I enjoyed myself at my orientation.
Eat tamales. You better believe I ate tamales on Christmas Eve.
Deep clean my room. This is actually my first reward for finishing finals. I love me a clean, dust-free bedroom.

Messy desk with papers

Before

Clean desk

After

Still working on this one. But my desk looks a little better!

Organize my closet and drawers. I did this to make room for my new grown-up clothes.
Drink tea. I just joined Steepster. My tea drawer’s already at the brim and I am very afraid. My brother gave me a whistling tea kettle for Christmas and I’m trying to drink what’s in my stash before buying new tea. I did, however, run out of earl grey and that needed to be replaced.
Go to the movies. I saw True Grit with my dad. I meant to go more often.
See my friends more often. I saw my friend Julia twice. She was back home in San Diego from law school in Washington DC. I saw Lauren once and met their cute little cat.
Buy more grown-up clothes. Santa brought me an interview suit for Christmas and I got some new work blouses.
Make a plan for post-graduation. Something in my personal life has changed recently, and although I didn’t have a plan before the change, I’ve been mulling over everything with a new perspective. Right now I have the opportunity to move to Washington DC and live with Julia starting in May, but I’ll be applying for jobs in Southern California, too.

So I never saw the snow (not even dog pee snow), but I have no regrets about how I spent my break (though I do wish I had seen more of my friends). That being said, I plan to spend my last week or so of break hitting the gym and the books and trying to achieve mental balance in preparation for a long semester. OK, signing off so I can make an appointment to get my hair cut! Remember: “your hair is your head suit” (Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock).

Banned Books Week 2010

Ah, yes. It’s that time of year again. For the East Coast, it’s hurricane season. For New York, it’s tornado season, apparently. For Californians like myself, it’s fire and earthquake season. Today, I picked up my room to make a clear pathway to my door frame and checked my shelves to make sure nothing dangerous will fall on me should an earthquake strike. Best to prepare, because even the smallest earthquake makes me crouch in my door frame, sobbing softly and whispering to myself, “I hate California. I hate California. I hate California…”

For the rest of the country, something very important and very non-weather-related is happening. It’s Banned Books Week. I’m participating on my own by reading a book that was banned in school libraries across several states: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (winner of the 2007 Newbery Medal). One of my classmates read a passage from it during the Banned Books Week event last year at Cal State Fullerton and I have been intrigued ever since. I finally got the chance to start reading it last night after our neighborhood’s power went out due to record-breaking heat. I was instantly hooked by Patron’s ability to tell a story of a recovering alcoholic man’s heartbreaking voyage to rock bottom as Lucky, a 10-year-old girl, hears it. “Recovering alcoholics in a children’s book?” Yes, recovering alcoholics in a children’s book. But Lucky isn’t your average 10-year-old. She is, for one thing, a workin’ girl. And the maturity that she gained from her life’s circumstances is part of why I think this book is so appealing to me and my librarian friends as much as it is to kids. Patron takes her young audience seriously, and that is something that translates well for older audiences. I can’t wait to read more.

What are you reading for Banned Books Week?