Monday, September 2, 2019

August, 2019 Reading! 📚❤️📚❤️


I enjoy reading so much.  I have so many books that I want to read, I hope that I can get to all of them!  This month I enjoyed all of the books I read.  They were varied which always keeps my interest.  If I read a thriller, then next I might read a contemporary fiction book to keep my interest.  Some books I read, and others I listen to on audiobooks in the car or while I cook or clean.  

The first book I read this month was City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert.  She is also the author of Eat, Pray, Love.  Vivian Morris is a ninety-five-year-old woman who is telling her life story that begins when she is kicked out of Vassar Collage at age 19.  Her parents don't know what to do with her, so they send her to live with her Aunt Peg in New York City.  Peg owns the Lily Playhouse, a small theater, and Vivian begins her career of designing fashion.  Vivian's life is quite risque for the 1940's, but she lives life to the fullest.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Vivian is a memorable character, and the book is full of nostalgic New York glamour.

The Nickel Boys, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead, is the fictionalized story of  boys sent to a reform school in Florida.  It is based on the true story of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna , Florida.  I loved this book, and I can see it becoming required college reading.  Whitehead's character of Elwood is unforgettable as he navigates his life at The Nickel School.  Always hopeful and full of potential, Elwood captured me, as a reader, immediately.  In the acknowledgements, Whitehead lists other works the reader may want to pursue after finishing the book.  The Nickel Boys was the Barnes and Noble Book Club selection for July and our group had a wonderful discussion of this book.

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman was a book I wanted to read for a long time.  It was a Reese Witherspoon pick of the month in June, 2018.  She is going to make it into a movie.  This book is about Erin, a documentary filmmaker and Mark, a successful investment banker who find something in the water while on their honeymoon in Bora Bora.  This book had me hooked by the first chapter.  I listened to it on audiobooks, (the author is the narrator), and could not stop listening!  This book has themes of the importance of choices we make, along with our morals and values.

I thoroughly enjoyed the quirky characters in Very Nice by March Dermansky.  It was a Spivey's Club pick for the month of August.  The book begins with the drama between Rachel, a college student, and her writing professor Zahid Azzam, who is also a best-selling author.  Rachel walks the professor's dog in exchange for a better grade, and then takes the dog to her mother's Connecticut home for the summer while Zahid travels to Pakistan when his grandmother becomes ill.  Zahid shows up at the Connecticut home, and that is when the book starts to take flight.  The book is told from the varying perspectives of the major characters in the book.  The characters are all interconnected which adds to the enjoyment of the book.  I listened to this book on audio, and I put it on as often as I could.  The characters all have their own agenda, and the ending is a complete surprise!

After reading Blake Crouch's Recursion last month, I wanted to read his New York Times best-seller, Dark Matter.  This book is about Jason Dessen, a physics professor, who is abducted one night while walking home from his neighborhood Chicago bar.  He wakes up and the life he has known is no longer his.  I listened to this book on audio and the narrator, Jon Lindstrom (formerly of General Hospital fame), made the character of Jason Dessen come alive for me.  (Note:  Jon also narrates Recursion in its audio form.)  The setting of Chicago was also paramount to the enjoyment of the book for me, being that it is my hometown.  Crouch has done his homework as far as noting the highways Dessen was on, as well as his neighborhood bar.  I really loved this book; it is so intriguing, mind-blowing and again, I could not stop listening.  

Next, I read Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center.  It was a Spivey's Club pick for the month of August.  I loved this book.  It is one of my favorite reads of this year.  The main character, Cassie Hanwell, is a firefighter and is making her way in a career dominated by men.  When her mother becomes ill, she moves to Boston to a firehouse that is unlike the one she came from in Austin.  This book makes you laugh, makes you cry, and makes you fall in love with the Rookie!  Katherine Center has created a beautiful story with memorable characters.  I highly recommend this book.  

The last book I read this month was Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber.  This is a heart-warming book about Annie, who finds solace and a new life in the cottage by the sea her family rented in the summers when she was a young girl.  She becomes part of her new community, makes new friends, and there is even romance.  It is a sweet story that makes me want to find my own "cottage by the sea".  

I hope you will read some of these great books I have enjoyed reading this month.  



August, 2019 Reading!

Hello September!!



Friday, August 30, 2019

20 Minute Summer Squash Pasta with Brown Butter & Goat Cheese

Ahhhh!  Such a yummy, creamy pasta with summer veggies!  How can you go wrong?  This recipe is from the How Sweet Eats blog by Jessica Merchant.  It does take 20 minutes to make, so it could be an easy meal to prepare when you don't have a lot of time.  It is made in a skillet, so that helps with clean-up, too!

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of your favorite pasta  (I used a box of gluten-free pasta or you could use a brown rice pasta.)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 zucchini squash, sliced into rounds
  • 1 summer squash, sliced into rounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
Instructions:
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to directions.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat a skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the pine nuts.  Toss and stir them until they are golden and fragrant, about 5 to 6 minutes.  Remove from the heat immediately.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the butter.  Whisk it constantly until brown bits begin to form on the bottom and the butter is golden.  When that happens, add the squash rounds and toss to coat, then cook for 5 minutes until the zucchini softens.  Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
  • The pasta should be finished by now, so add it to the skillet with the zucchini.  Turn the heat to low.  Toss the pasta and squash well, making sure everything is combined and has a bit of butter on it.  Crumble in the goat cheese and toss it well.  Add in another few cracks of fresh black pepper.  Toss in the pine nuts.
  • Stir in the fresh basil and serve immediately.


Summer Squash with Brown Butter & Goat Cheese

I really enjoyed this pasta dish!  So tasty and quick to make!  It reheats well, too.  I hope you enjoy this summer pasta recipe!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Fresh Green Bean Salad with Blue Cheese and Dijon

Wow!  What a couple of days in Florida!  I wanted to get this blog out early this morning, but a certain Hurricane Dorian took priority.  Between yesterday and today I have all of my supplies.  My sister is giving me an extra 24 bottles of water, and Amazon came to the rescue with batteries and a portable cell phone charger.  It is always nerve-wracking to prepare for hurricanes, but the latest report, as of Thursday at 1:00 p.m. says Dorian may become a Category 4 storm, so I'm not fooling around!  

So, onto this awesome green bean salad!  I found this recipe on the How Sweet Eats blog by Jessica Merchant.  It is a such a delicious side dish!  I swapped out the blue cheese in favor of goat cheese.  I did use the Dijon mustard in the dressing.  I tried a substitution the first time I made the recipe, but I made it a second time with the Dijon.  I prefer the Dijon, but just know that Dijon is off plan because of the vinegar.

Fresh Green Bean Salad with Blue Cheese and Dijon

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (Note:  I substituted crumbled goat cheese.  You could use a vegan Parmesan, too!)
Dijon Dressing
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs (chives, basil, etc.)  (Note:  I used basil.)
Instructions:
  • Start by blanching the green beans.  Prepare an ice bath - fill a large bowl with ice and cold water.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Once boiling, add the green beans and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.  Use a strainer to immediately transfer the beans to the ice bath.  Let them chill in the bath for 5 minutes.  Pat the beans dry with a paper towel.
  • Place the beans on the plate and give them a light sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Drizzle on the Dijon dressing.  Top with the crumbled blue cheese and walnuts.  Serve immediately.  This is incredible cold - like leftovers right out of the fridge.
Dijon Dressing
  • In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and mustard.  Whisk in the oil until the dressing is emulsified.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper along with the herbs.  Whisk to combine.  Any extras of this stays great in the fridge for a few days - it just has to be whisked and stirred before using!


Fresh Green Bean Salad with Blue Cheese and Dijon

This salad is so tangy and tasty, as well as beautiful!  Who wouldn't want to serve this alongside chicken or a steak, if you are not eating a plant-based diet?  I hope you will try this recipe! 

Monday, August 26, 2019

International Dog Day! 🐕

In honor of International Dog Day, I’m posting a photo of Milo with his new haircut!  The bandana is already a thing of the past! 😂 Enjoy your doggies today!



Monday Motivation!


🌻 This is so appropriate for starting my day today!  I hope this motivates others as you begin your day! 🌻