.

.

May 30, 2020

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict


Hooray! I have finally found a fool-proof recipe for Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise, thanks to Cook's Country. Here are their notes:
We developed an unconventional technique for hollandaise that required whisking butter and egg yolks on the stovetop in a double boiler. This method reversed the usual order of operations, which combines the yolks with water from the start. Mixing the yolks with butter created a stronger emulsion that was less likely to break during cooking. The resulting sauce is so stable that it can be chilled and reheated. We used a lot of water in this sauce and added the lemon juice off heat. The sauce is foamier than a classic hollandaise, but holds without breaking for as long as an hour. It can be refrigerated for up to three days and reheated without breaking.
Poaching the eggs in a shallow skillet rather than a saucepan makes them easier to retrieve from the poaching water. Trying to get all the eggs into the pan at once can be a challenge. To ensure success, we cracked the eggs into four teacups and then tilted the cups to gently slide the eggs into the boiling water all at once. (See My Notes). We then moved the pan off heat; the gentle residual heat kept the whites intact and the yolks soft and runny.  

Hollandaise Sauce:

8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and softened (see My Notes)
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup boiling water
2 tsp. lemon juice
Salt
Pinch cayenne pepper

Eggs Benedict:

4 English muffins, split
8 slices Canadian bacon
2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
1 tsp. salt
8 large eggs

For the Hollandaise:

Place butter and egg yolks in large heat-resistant glass or ceramic bowl. Bring 1/2 inch water to simmer in medium saucepan. Place bowl over simmering water, making sure that water does not touch bottom of bowl, and whisk constantly until mixture is smooth and homogeneous, about 1 minute. 

Slowly add 1/3 cup boiling water and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and sauce registers 160-165 degrees, 7-10 minutes. Off heat and whisk in lemon juice, 1/8 tsp. salt, and cayenne. Remove saucepan from heat (keep bowl over water bath) and season with salt to taste. Cover to keep warm.

For the Eggs Benedict:

Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Arrange English muffins split side up on baking sheet and broil until golden brown, 2-4 minutes. Place 1 slice bacon on each muffin half and broil until hot and beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Remove sheet from oven and cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Fill 12-inch skillet nearly to rim with water. Add vinegar and salt and bring to boil over high heat. Crack 2 eggs into each of the 4 teacups. Carefully and simultaneously pour eggs into skillet. Cover pan, remove from heat, and poach eggs until whites are set but yolks are still runny, 4 minutes. For firmer eggs, cook 2-3 minutes longer.

Use slotted spoon to transfer eggs from pan to paper towel-lined plate. Arrange 1 poached egg on top of each muffin half. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons hollandaise over each egg. Serve, passing remaining hollandaise separately.

My Notes:

Be sure the butter is softened at room temperature and not in the microwave!

I used regular bacon (cooked ahead of time) instead of Canadian bacon.

Prior to poaching the eggs, I strain them (individually) with a fine meshed sieve over ramekins before slipping them into the water. The sieve (and adding white vinegar to the water) eliminates the stringy white egg mass in the pan and produces a more compact attractive looking poached egg. Make sure you don’t leave the egg in the sieve for more than 30 seconds.

These are delicious as is or served with sliced avocado and crab cakes.

Click on the link in my sidebar for more of my favorite recipes.


Please visit The Intrepid Reader for Weekend Cooking.

Weekend Cooking 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, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.

May 29, 2020

Looking Back - Turtle Moon

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.



Turtle Moon by Alice Hoffman
Fiction
1997 Berkley Books (first published 1992)
Read in September 1999
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Turtle Moon transports the reader to Verity, Florida, a place where anything can happen during the month of May, when migrating sea turtles come to town, mistaking the glow of the streetlights for the moon. Lucy Rosen, a transplanted New Yorker, is determined to start a new life in Verity, along with her twelve-year-old son, Keith. But neither Lucy nor Keith could begin to imagine what the town holds in store for them. Everything they’ve ever hope for, everything they’ve ever feared, begins to happen. When Julian Cash, Verity-born and fierce enough to paralyze bees with fright, enters their lives, nothing will be the same – for Lucy, and her son, or for Julian.

Sensual, suspenseful, dangerous and magical,
Turtle Moon is Alice Hoffman’s most beloved book.


My Original Thoughts (1999):

Very Good! I couldn't put it down, yet didn't want it to end. Magical realism. Murder mystery. Romance. Better than Here on Earth. I like her writing style. Very quick and easy to read. Good entertainment!


My Current Thoughts:

I only have a vague recollection of this novel, but it sounds like I really enjoyed it. 

May 27, 2020

Sidebar Updates

I've been blogging for over 14 years (oops, missed my blogiversary in February!) and have added a few new items to my sidebar. Some are for my own convenience, but I thought you might be interested in a couple. 



Music Monday - When we began to shelter-in-place due to COVID19, I started recording my husband while he performs one song, which I post each week here on my blog, as well as Facebook and Instagram. You can find all of his weekly performances by clicking on that link.



Recipes - I used to have a cooking blog, but haven't updated it in a very long time. However, I enjoy participating in Weekend Cooking and have accumulated quite a few recipes on this blog. You can find them all on this link.



Wordless Wednesday - This is the spot for all my random photographs that I've shared over the years on the Wordless Wednesday meme. It's been fun to look back through these posts!



Monthly Summaries - I started keeping an online journal of sorts with my monthly summaries. These go beyond just sharing what I read during the month. I include details about movies and TV shows, pictures of the puzzles we've been working on, visitors or outings, as well as how we're managing life under quarantine due to COVID-19. 



Favorite Audiobooks - This is pretty much for my reference for when I'm asked for audiobook recommendations. I will update this link as I continue to discover great new audiobooks. 



My Reviews of Louise Penny's Books - This is another personal reference link so I can jog my memory about each book. I can't seem to remember the titles of these books, but I can remember the plots and which ones I enjoyed. 



Top Ten and Year-End Summaries - This is pretty self-explanatory. It's a good resource for those of you looking for recommendations.



Looking Back - This is where all my book journal entries from the late 90s onward are posted. 

The remaining three links are to our various road trips. I still need to finish sharing pictures and details from last year's great adventure, but I'm almost caught up!

Let me know if you'd like any other resourceful links. Also, for those of you visiting from Facebook or Instagram, please feel free to leave comments on my posts. You don't have to be a blogger and I'd love to hear from you!

May 25, 2020

Music Monday #7 - Since I Fell for You

Time for another Music Monday with Rod. During this period of "sheltering in place," I thought it would be fun to share a personal music video on Mondays. My hope is that some of my family and friends will join in with their own videos for a virtual music tour.

Rest, nature, books, music... Such is my idea of happiness. ~ Leo Tolstoy


May 24, 2020

Challah

(click on link for more information and history)

I think I have only tasted challah once and I never thought I was capable of making it; it looks so complicated with its fancy braid! I've made bread, but haven't had luck with biscuits or rolls, so this was a little intimidating. I shouldn't have worried. It was so easy and turned out perfectly! It isn't an eggy challah, so I may try other recipes, but if you don't mind the lack of egg flavor, give it a try. It will impress your dinner guests! And, as many have said, it's excellent for French Toast the following day.

I found this recipe on Bon Appetit's website. Senior editor Julia Kramer’s mother, Jill Weinberg, shared her family’s recipe. What a treat!

INGREDIENTS

2 ¼-ounce envelopes active dry yeast (about 4½ teaspoons)
2 teaspoons plus ¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
4¾ teaspoons kosher salt
½ cup shortening, melted, plus more for greasing (canola oil or butter)
7 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 large egg yolks
Sesame seeds (for serving)

PREPARATION

Whisk yeast, 2 tsp. sugar, and ¼ cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if kneading by hand). Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Whisk eggs, salt, ½ cup shortening, ¾ cup sugar, and 2 cups warm water in a medium bowl. Add egg mixture and 7 cups flour to yeast mixture. Beat with dough hook on medium speed until dough is smooth, elastic, and very sticky and pulls away from sides of bowl, about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.)

Grease a large bowl with shortening; transfer dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, 1½–2 hours.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 6 equal portions. Shape each into a 17"-long rope.





Grease 2 rimmed baking sheets with shortening. Place 3 ropes side by side on each prepared sheet. Working with one at a time, pinch logs together at 1 end; braid, then pinch ends together and tuck under. Let sit in a warm place until 1½ times larger, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325°. Beat egg yolks and 2 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Working with one at a time, brush dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake first loaf 15 minutes, then increase oven temperature to 425° (see my notes!) and continue baking until browned and sounds hollow when tapped, 15–20 minutes more. Let cool on baking sheet.




Reduce oven temperature to 325°, then leave oven door open 5 seconds to cool down. Repeat baking with remaining dough.

Do Ahead: Challah can be made 3 days ahead; keep tightly wrapped at room temperature, or freeze up to 1 month. Let cool before storing.

My Notes:

I cut the recipe in half since I wasn't sure how well I would like it and didn't want to use up our precious yeast (I prepared this during COVID-19 pandemic)! The above recipe is for two loaves. 

I read several comments about the oven temperature being too hot (at 425), so I baked the loaf at 325 for the first 10 minutes and then at 375 for 15-20 more minutes.

I also reduced the amount of water by about 1/4 cup for each loaf. So, if you make the regular recipe (for two loaves), I would recommend using 1 1/2 cups of water; for one loaf, I used 3/4. I also used about 4 cups of flour for my single loaf. 

I omitted the sesame seeds since I wanted to use some of the bread for French Toast. 


Please visit The Intrepid Reader for Weekend Cooking.
Weekend Cooking 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, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.

May 22, 2020

Looking Back - Saying Grace

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.



Saying Grace by Beth Gutcheon
Fiction
1995 HarperCollins
Read in September 1999
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Rue Shaw has everything--a much loved child, a solid marriage, and a job she loves. Saying Grace takes place in Rue's mid-life, when her daughter is leaving home, her parents are failing, her husband is restless and the school she has built is being buffeted by changes in society that affect us all. Funny, rich in detail and finally stunning, this novel presents a portrait of a tight-knit community in jeopardy, and of a charming woman whose most human failing is that she wants things to stay the same.

Saying Grace is about the fragility of human happiness and the strength of convictions, about keeping faith as a couple whether it keeps one safe or not. Beth Gutcheon has a gift for creating a world in microcosm and capturing the grace in the rhythms of everyday life.

My Original Thoughts (1999):

I liked this book, but didn't love it. There were far too many characters to keep track of and only one that I felt connected to. And, it was sad. Death, affair, separation, child abuse, etc. Not a very upbeat story and a lot of loose ends. 

My Current Thoughts:

This was the second book of Gutcheon's that I read in 1999. I don't remember anything about it and no longer own a copy, so it's definitely not one I'm likely to read again. Quite frankly, it sounds dreadful!

May 21, 2020

Nothing to See Here



Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
Fiction
2019 HarperAudio
Read by Marin Ireland
Finished on May 15, 2020
Rating: 4.5/5 (Great!)

Publisher's Blurb:

Lillian and Madison were unlikely roommates and yet inseparable friends at their elite boarding school. But then, Lillian had to leave the school unexpectedly in the wake of a scandal, and they’ve barely spoken since. Until now, when Lillian gets a letter from Madison pleading for her help.

Madison’s twin stepkids are moving in with her family, and she wants Lillian to be their caretaker. However, there’s a catch: The twins spontaneously combust when they get agitated, flames igniting from their skin in a startling but beautiful way. Lillian is convinced Madison is pulling her leg, but it’s the truth.

Thinking of her dead-end life at home, the life that has consistently disappointed her, Lillian figures she has nothing to lose. Over the course of one humid, demanding summer, Lillian and the twins learn to trust each other - and stay cool - while also staying out of the way of Madison’s buttoned-up politician husband. Surprised by her own ingenuity yet unused to the intense feelings of protectiveness she feels for them, Lillian ultimately begins to accept that she needs these strange children as much as they need her - urgently and fiercely. Couldn’t this be the start of the amazing life she’d always hoped for?

With white-hot wit and a big, tender heart, Kevin Wilson has written his best book yet - a most unusual story of parental love.

Never judge a book by its cover or its outrageously unbelievable premise. When I first noticed Nothing to See Here on one or two of my favorite blogs, I quickly dismissed it simply based on the cover art. Yet, more and more readers started posting glowing reviews on their blogs and Goodreads and my interest was finally piqued. I remember when the same thing happened with Ready Player One and that audiobook turned out to be one of my all-time favorites. Now, almost eight years later, Kevin Wilson's novel has joined the ranks of unexpected pleasures. His humorous, touching story was such a pleasant surprise. If you enjoy heartfelt, yet unconventional, relationships between children and their caretakers, Nothing to See Here is just the book for you. Lillian's devotion and love toward Bessie and Roland is reminiscent of that between Alice and Frank (Be Frank with Me) and Aibileen and Mae Mobley (The Help). Your heartstrings will be tugged, but you will also burst out laughing, as I did as I read all three of these novels. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Wilson's quirky story, but it was Marin Ireland's outstanding performance that truly won me over. Apparently, I'm not the only happy listener. It turns out that Ireland is a 2020 Audie winner for best female narrator and after listening to this book, I couldn't agree more. I wonder if I would have laughed out loud as much as I did had I read the print edition; Ireland's timing and tone are spot on. I can't wait to try more audiobooks read by her. Oh, and of course, I'll try more books by Kevin Wilson. Any recommendations?

"Narrator Marin Ireland flawlessly introduces listeners to Lillian and Madison, two unlikely friends separated after a boarding school scandal.... Drawing from a seemingly endless supply of character voices, Ireland immerses listeners in this magical yet weird family, exquisitely capturing every unusual layer of the story.... Ireland and Wilson leave a lasting impression and provide a thoroughly entertaining experience." (AudioFile Magazine)

May 18, 2020

Music Monday #6 - Me and Bobby McGee

Time for another Music Monday with Rod. During this period of "sheltering in place," I thought it would be fun to share a personal music video on Mondays. My hope is that some of my family and friends will join in with their own videos for a virtual music tour.

Rest, nature, books, music... Such is my idea of happiness. ~ Leo Tolstoy

May 16, 2020

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta


Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta


I discovered this easy casserole on Taste and Tell and it's become a family favorite, although given the high fat content, we only have it a couple of times a year!

10 oz penne pasta
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and cubed or shredded
3/4 cup diced, cooked ham
4 oz bacon, cooked and crumbled
Sliced green onion, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and reserve.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the heavy cream, garlic and white pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1 cup of the Mozzarella and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Stir to combine, then simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan or deep casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Pour the cooked pasta, chicken, ham and bacon into the baking dish and stir to combine. Pour the cheese sauce over and stir to combine. Sprinkle the remaining Mozzarella and Parmesan on top of the pasta mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven until warmed through and the cheese on top is melted, about 15 minutes. 

Turn the heat to broil to brown the top, if desired.

Garnish with sliced green onion before serving.

My Notes:

If prepared and refrigerated in advance, allow more cooking time in order to heat completely.

I baked it in a covered dish and took the lid off when it was time to brown the top by broiling.

I've made this with and without the ham. I honestly didn't miss it when I left it out.

Make it easy by cooking the bacon in the oven ahead of time and use a rotisserie chicken.

Obviously, this is NOT low-cal, but if you're craving an easy comfort meal, this is delicious, especially with a small Caesar salad.




Please visit The Intrepid Reader for Weekend Cooking.
Weekend Cooking 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, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.

May 15, 2020

Looking Back - A Gracious Plenty

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.




A Gracious Plenty by Sheri Reynolds
Fiction
1997 Crown
Read in August 1999
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

In the lush and isolated cemetery of a small Southern town, Finch Nobles, the narrator of this brilliantly inventive novel, tends to the flowers and shrubs that surround the monuments of people who were not known to her while they lived but who in death have become her lifeline.

Badly burned in a household accident when she was just four, Finch grows into a courageous and feisty loner. She eschews the pity and awkward stares of the people of her hometown and discovers that if she listens closely enough, she can hear the voices of those who have gone before. Finally, when she speaks, they answer back, telling their stories in a remarkable chorus of regrets, explanations, and insights. But the infant Marcus, son of the town's mayor, died before he learned to speak and can only wail away the hours. The roots of his anguish are revealed in a crescendo of lasting resonance that ties together the outcast Finch, her dead friends, and the living community outside the cemetery's gates.

With prose that is spare, yet richly poetic, Sheri Reynolds creates a vision of a world that is at once fantastic and palpably real. She teaches us that neither our capacity to suffer nor our ability to be healed ends with the grave--and that love is all we have. A Gracious Plenty is a reading experience you will not soon forget.

My Original Thoughts (1999):

What an interesting and enjoyable book! Quite imaginative. 

My Current Thoughts:

I didn't care for this one quite as much as The Rapture of Canaan, which I read a couple of years prior to this one. As with most of the books I read during this time period, I'm sure it was a book group selection. These are the only two books I've read by this author.

May 14, 2020

A Great Reckoning



A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #12
Mystery
2016 Minotaur Books
Finished on May 12, 2020
Rating: 5/5 (Excellent!)

Publisher's Blurb:


When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes.


Given to Armand Gamache as a gift the first day of his new job, the map eventually leads him to shattering secrets. To an old friend and older adversary. It leads the former Chief of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec to places even he is afraid to go. But must.

And there he finds four young cadets in the Sûreté academy, and a dead professor. And, with the body, a copy of the old, odd map.

Everywhere Gamache turns, he sees Amelia Choquet, one of the cadets. Tattooed and pierced. Guarded and angry. Amelia is more likely to be found on the other side of a police line-up. And yet she is in the academy. A protégée of the murdered professor.

The focus of the investigation soon turns to Gamache himself and his mysterious relationship with Amelia, and his possible involvement in the crime. The frantic search for answers takes the investigators back to Three Pines and a stained glass window with its own horrific secrets.

For both Amelia Choquet and Armand Gamache, the time has come for a great reckoning.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny pulls back the layers to reveal a brilliant and emotionally powerful truth in her latest spellbinding novel.

I loved this book! It's my favorite, thus far, of Louise Penny's Three Pines mystery series. What more can I say about this series that hasn't already been said in other reviews other than that I was emotionally connected to the characters and found the pacing taut, never once feeling that the plot was convoluted. Penny's ability to unravel an intricately woven story shines in this installment. The last page brought a tear to my eye and I thought, once again, that Louise Penny is an amazing writer. Bravo!

May 12, 2020

Daisy Jones and The Six



Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Fiction
2019 Random House Audio
Read by Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Judy Greer, Pablo Schreiber and more
Finished on May 6, 2020
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six: The band's album Aurora came to define the rock 'n' roll era of the late seventies, and an entire generation of girls wanted to grow up to be Daisy. But no one knows the reason behind the group's split on the night of their final concert at Chicago Stadium on July 12, 1979 . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock 'n' roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

Last year everyone was raving about Daisy Jones & The Six, but it didn't really appeal to me until I started hearing readers talk about the exceptional audio version of the book. I decided to give it a try and have to say it's worthy of all that praise. I found myself taking longer walks just so I could continue listening to this behind-the-scenes story of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. Reid's oral history includes 21 readers, which combined with an interview style, makes it feel more like listening to a podcast than an audiobook. I had to remind myself that this isn't about a real band and as much as I would like to hear the music mentioned throughout the narrative, I'm out of luck. However, the audiobook includes PDFs of the lyrics to the band's songs; I assume the print edition does as well. While there were quite a few notable passages, I don't plan to buy a copy for a re-read. I think the performance of all the readers (especially those of Judy Greer and Benjamin Bratt) is what held my interest more so than the actual plot. Highly recommend.

“I wanted you to feel immersed in it, and not like you were reading fiction, but like you were there. For me, the best way to do that was to mimic what I would argue is the best medium for stories about rock, which is a rock documentary,” Reid explains. “I wanted it to feel like an episode of Behind the Music, as if you were hearing it from the people directly. That there was no filter. The conclusion I came to was that it had to be an oral history.” (Taylor Jenkins Reid, Rolling Stone)

May 11, 2020

Music Monday #5 - Yesterday

Time for another Music Monday with Rod. During this period of "sheltering in place," I thought it would be fun to share a personal music video on Mondays. My hope is that some of my family and friends will join in with their own videos for a virtual music tour. 

Rest, nature, books, music... Such is my idea of happiness. ~ Leo Tolstoy

May 8, 2020

Looking Back - The Book Club

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.




The Book Club by Mary Alice Monroe
Fiction
1999 Mira Books
Read in August 1999
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

On the surface, it is a monthly book club. But for five women, it is so much more. For Eve Porter, whose husband's sudden death cheats her of every security she had planned on, the club is a place of sanctuary. For Annie Blake, a brilliant attorney intent on starting a family late in life, it is the chance to finally let down her guard and dream of other possibilities. For Doris Bridges, it is her support group as she acknowledges her dying marriage and finds the ultimate freedom in her husband's betrayal. For Gabriella Rivera, the "perfect" wife, mother and friend who offers support to everyone but is afraid to ask for it herself, it is a sense of community. And for Midge Kirsch, an artist who has always lived her life against the grain, it is a haven of acceptance.

They are five women from different walks of life, embracing the challenge of change. And as they share their hopes and fears and triumphs, they will hold fast to the true magic of the book club friendship.

My Original Thoughts (1999):

Very enjoyable! Another book about women and friendship. Five woman who have known each other for 15 years belong to a book group. Each has her own problems in life, yet their friendship helps them through the rough spots. A lovely retreat to one of the member's cabins in the woods reminded me of On Golden Pond. A very entertaining "fluff" read. Better than The Five Fortunes by Beth Gutcheon and just as good as The Saving Graces by Patricia Gaffney. Two thumbs up!

My Current Thoughts:

I only have a vague recollection of this book, but I must not have thought it was worth re-reading since I no longer own a copy.

May 4, 2020

Music Monday #4 - Georgia On My Mind

Time for another Music Monday with Rod. During this period of "sheltering in place," I thought it would be fun to share a personal music video on Mondays. My hope is that some of my family and friends will join in with their own videos for a virtual music tour. 

Rest, nature, books, music... Such is my idea of happiness. ~ Leo Tolstoy

May 3, 2020

A Month in Summary - April 2020

Mt. Hood, Oregon
April 2020



I hope this post finds you all well as we move into another month of unusual times. Looking back on last month's summary, I see that we have gone from a worldwide count of over one million confirmed cases of COVID-19 to well over three million. The United States went from 200,000 cases to over one million (with over 65,000 deaths). Many states have begun to loosen their restrictions and it's only a matter of time until we see if there's a spike in the numbers of new cases. Personally, I plan to continue living my life as I have for these past 40-odd days and hope others will too. 

I am happy to report that my reading slump is over thanks to Louise Penny and her wonderful mystery series. I still have a few more to read from her backlist before her next release in September, and it feels great to finally enjoy my reading time once again. All but one of this month's books were winners and so far, I'm off to a good start for May. 

Books Read (click on the title for my review):

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (5/5)

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (4/5)

The Sight of You by Holly Miller (3/5)

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny (4/5)

First Lines:

The last thing I ever said to him was, "I'm falling asleep."
(Option B)

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down. (Little Fires Everywhere)

Joel, I'm so sorry. To see you again like that... Why did I get on the train? (The Sight of You)

Running, running, stumbling, running. (The Nature of the Beast)


Movies & TV Series:



Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - I didn't think I'd like this, as I'm not a big fan of Tarantino's films, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.


Deadwater Fell - I love David Tennant, but this four-episode series was disappointing. I felt it was too predictable and I didn't care for any of the characters.


Unforgotten (Season One) - I really enjoyed this British series from 2015. Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar are excellent. I'm anxious to watch the next season.

This Is Us (Season 3) - Yep. Still watching (and savoring) this one. 

Puzzlemania:




We gave up on this one!





Games:



We've had more Zoom/FaceTime met-ups with friends and family, as well as one with my book club. I've gotten together with a few friends for walks or cocktails on the deck, and Rod has been able to practice his music with a couple of friends. Of course, we maintain a distance of at least 6 feet apart and stay outdoors in order to reduce any risk of spreading or catching COVID-19. As of this date, our county has only five confirmed cases, with only one needing hospitalization. We feel very fortunate to live in a rural part of the state, but it is a tourist community and once the state reopens, our little town will be filled with out-of-town guests. I hope we can continue to be safe...


Depoe Bay, Oregon

My heart goes out to those who have lost friends and family members to this awful virus. Stay safe, my friends.