Tag Archives: cookbooks

Friday 5 – More Audiobooks! (Plus cookbooks to skip)

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Still on an audiobook kick… but I think I’m out of my cookbook-reading phase. At least for now…

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Eat Like a Gilmore
by Kristi Carlson (cookbook) – Skip

I am a huge fan of Gilmore Girls, so this cookbook intrigued me. I was curious what a cookbook for the Gilmore Girls could be like since Lorelai used her oven as storage and they seem to subsist on coffee, pop tarts, burgers with fries and all things candy. But after reading the intro, loved the creativity of tying the recipes to certain dishes eaten on specific episodes of the show! Alas, none of the recipes really called me to action to create myself, so as a cookbook, I’d skip it.

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Happily Homemade
by Rachel Schultz 
(cookbook) – Skip

I believe I picked up this cookbook through Thrift Books (referral link) and after reading it, immediately put it up for grabs on PaperbackSwap (referral link). I can’t tell you much about it because it wasn’t memorable. I’m sure the recipes were fine, but maybe I’m just need a break from reading cookbooks?

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Born A Crime
by Trevor Noah (nonfiction, audiobook) – MUST LISTEN

If I made of list of best audiobooks I’ve ever listened to, this would be on it. To be honest, after I started listening to it, it was my husband was the one who told me Noah took place of Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. I had read that Noah was a comedian, so I guess I was expecting a comedic book/story. This is not. Well, not really. It’s his memoir of life growing up in South Africa – and it is a very interesting glimpse. I feel quite ignorant in my knowledge of Apartheid and the world afterward. I absolutely love Noah’s storytelling and hearing about what life was like for him.

Like the books The Girl with Seven Names and Love, Loss and What We AteI am always fascinated learning what it’s like to grow up in other parts of the world.

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The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt (fiction, audiobook) – MUST LISTEN

This book seems to have such divided camps! You either love it or hate it, perhaps because it is such a long book. I chose it because it was highly recommended on audio and is 32 hours and 30 minutes long. Normally, I wouldn’t be able to finish such a book with a 3-day-per-week commute without some hefty library fines. But our 22-hr RT road trip to Michigan twice per year would do it! We finished a little over half the book during the first trip and then marked where we left off and returned it to the library. I reserved it again for our September trip and we were so looking forward to it.

I would agree that the book is slow in some parts, but I did love the narration. Boris was my favorite character! I am not sure if I would have felt that way if I would have read the book over listening to it. The movie adaptation is to be released in 2019 and my husband and I already have a date to see it.

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Braving the Wilderness
by Brené Brown (nonfiction, audiobook) – worth a listen

This book is so eye-opening in this day in age of political polarization and an we vs. them culture. In some parts, the author spent a lot of time explaining her research. I understand that this is the nature of the beast when writing a book on such a topic and establishing your expertise on what you are writing, but sometimes I just wanted to skip over that stuff.

There were so many takeaways about standing on your own and not having to pick sides because real life is more complicated than that. For instance, yes you can support police and first responders, but also expect to hold them accountable. If I had the book, I know I would have highlighted passages. In fact, I decided to listen to it twice, the second time when we needed something to listen to our last leg of our Michigan trip after we finished The Goldfinch. 

My husband isn’t in the habit in listening to reading these kinds of books, so he wasn’t a fan at first. But when she got into the topics of political polarization and the dangers of dehumanization, I found him nodding in agreement. I remember her saying, “It’s hard to hate someone up close.”

My advice: this is a book worth reading/listening to, but please be patient in the beginning if you have a hard time muddling through the research aspect.

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What’s the best audiobook you’ve listened to lately?
(Apparently, that’s how I’ve been getting my reading in as of late!)

Cheers~
Carrie

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Friday 5: Books on Acid Reflux & GERD

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Yesterday I shared the pain I’ve been dealing with over the past month or so with Acid Reflux/GERD. It took me about a month, but I strove to put my acid reflux at bay with minimal set backs.

When you are in pain, you will do just about anything to find relief! During that time, while taking Prilosec, I also followed as many common dietary and lifestyle recommendations which I have also listed in this post.

Still, I tried to learn everything there is to know about Acid Reflux / GERD and how to treat and manage it. Symptoms of heartburn, chest pain and bloat and burping don’t go away by popping antacids. Medications can take a few days to kick-in, so there is generally no instant relief. But once the relief started, I wanted to be armed with the information of what needs to be done to prevent this in the future.

I knew I didn’t want to just treat the symptoms. I also had read in online articles about the dangers of being on medications long-term. But there is so much conflicting information out there! Below are the books I turned to during this time. In this post, I included the year each book which published because that can sometimes matter when it comes to medical information.

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The 7-Day Acid Reflux Diet:
by Robert M. Fleischer (2013)

This was a quick Kindle purchase for $2.50. The publication is only available as an e-book. I rated it a 2 out of 5 on Goodreads. That basically is the rating for “it was ok”. Why did I rate it as such? One Amazon reviewer indicated:

“No new info here – very overpriced. Just a rehash of info you can find on the web for free.” 

That might be the case, but I tend to agree with another Amazon reviewer whose quote I now cannot find that indicated that this may include info that you can find on the web; but here you’ve got it all in one place without having to do the research yourself, especially if you are experiencing acid reflux for the first time.

I haven’t tried any of the recipes. In fact, I forgot about them until now.

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Acid Reflux:
How to Treat Acid Reflux
How to Prevent Acid Reflux
by Ace McCloud (audio, 2017)

I downloaded this audiobook from my library because it was only a 56-minute book. There were no reviews on Goodreads at the time. I rated it a 3 (“I liked it”) and someone has since rated it a 2 (“it was ok”). This was written by a guy who has suffered from acid reflux, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to give it a listen. There is not too much new here that you can’t find online, but again may be worth a listen if you are experiencing acid reflux for the first time.

However, since listening to this book I found that author Ace McCloud has written 400 different works ranging from cookie recipes, to habits, to money, to Miley Cyrus. Doesn’t sound like much of an expert, now, huh. He advertises some of his books throughout the audio – like “checkout my book for managing stress” or something to that affect, which may be helpful; but some may find the shameless plug annoying.

Still there was one new nugget of information I did take away:

  • Aloe Vera Juice

I didn’t know this stuff existed or if drinking it would actually work. It’s a cheap purchase at Walmart in the pharmacy section. I listened to this book early on in my stages and I was willing to try anything. It tastes just like you’d think – like aloe vera gel smells, but slides down like a liquid. Not very tasty, but you only drink about 1/4 cup at a time before or with meals. I added some to my smoothies! Who is to say this works or doesn’t work with all of the other things I was trying at once!

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Acid Reflux Diet
by Maria A. Bella (2012)

I haven’t read a Complete Idiot’s Guide to anything since… the 90s? But it was available at my library, so why not?! You’ll get a lot of info on how the stomach and esophagus work in this book. It’s got a lot of very detailed information for anyone new to acid reflux, including foods to avoid and friendly foods.

I wasn’t in love with the recipe suggestions, however. Many acid reflux cookbooks will suggest avoiding foods, but then put them in their own recipes! Also, although I know there is a correlation with high fat and acid reflux, I don’t like when low-fat and fat-free products are pushed so heavily.

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Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Acid Reflux (Revised Edition):
Nutrition You Can Live With
by Elaine Magee (2008)

I loved the title of this book because when one has acid reflux and starts to do some research, one learns all of the foods to avoid. It gets to the point where you start thinking, “Well, what CAN I eat?” It’s a pretty well laid-out and straight-forward kind of book.

New nuggets for me:

  • Chew gum. This was the first time I heard this suggestion, but it makes sense:
    • “The saliva stimulated by chewing seems to help neutralize acid and force stomach fluids back where it belongs.”
    • Generally speaking, this seems to be working for me, but I started doing this way into my treatment that… who knows!
    • I quit gum years ago; but now I may have a new gum addiction. Whoops.
  • High-protein diets are NOT more healthful that high-carbohydrate diets
    • I loved this nugget of advice. People often give up carbs to lose weight (weight loss is a big suggestion to combat acid reflux); but ignore the saturated fat that often comes with eating a high protein diet. Too much saturated fat with exacerbate acid reflux. It’s a high fiber diet that’s more important.
  • Health, NOT Weight Loss
    • This was an aha! moment for me!
    • Focusing on losing weight puts you into a dieting mindset where are you more likely to fail. All diets “work” if you work them, but they aren’t always healthy.
    • Instead, “change your focus to being and feeling healthy.” The weight loss with follow naturally.

I wasn’t in love with the recipe suggestions in this book. I did try one for Green Sauced Chicken Enchiladas. They were a little cumbersome and tasted okay, not great. It did make me think of this Lazy Girl’s Chicken Enchilada Casserole, though, and that I should make that again soon and can use green (tomatillo) salsa if I feel like tomatoes and I should continue our (sad) divorce.

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The Acid Reflux Solution:
A Cookbook and Lifestyle Guide for Healing Heartburn Naturally
by Jorge E. Rodriguez, MD (2012) – MUST READ

This is the one book I would read if you want some good information on the whys, hows and what-to-do-nows of acid reflux. I checked it out from the library and have since purchased it on Thriftbooks. It’s written by a doctor who had experienced acid reflex himself for many years.

I like how Rodriguez addresses the medication situation – that it is useful to treat symptoms in the short-term; but that by no means should it be continued for long term use. PPIs (proton pump inhibitors), like Prilosec, should not be “prescribed longer than 50 days”. PPIs stop the production of the stomach acid so that there will be none to reflux up the esophagus. This is why it often takes 24 hours to three days to feel any relief of symptoms.

However, you do need that acid to break down food and absorb important nutrients in the long term! Without it, you will have trouble absorbing calcium, magnesium, iron and maybe even B vitamins, as well. Even if you think you are getting enough of these nutrients, you may not be soaking them up, which can affect your bones, red blood cells and heart in the long-term.

Rodriguez also addresses the usual list of trigger foods, indicating that that list may not be as long as we think! There is really only a short list of what foods may cause the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to relax, causing the reflux to occur in the first place. The other items may irritate an already inflamed esophagus, which is why some people can and some people cannot tolerate certain items. Maybe tomatoes, garlic, onions and I can all get back together and become one happy family?! In any case, real food that’s high in fiber and eaten in controlled portions is best.

There is much, much more to this book and I found it to be the most informational and liberating of all the books I read – the reason why I purchased it.

Some of the recipes in the book have longer ingredient lists and include complicated methods, but not all. At first glance, I thumbed through the recipes, skipping over many. But giving it a closer look, I found reasons to try some things I may normally swept under the rug, like Fennel-Scented Lentil Soup. (Fennel is a natural digestive aid!) I would have loved photos of each recipe as well as the nutrition facts. That may have made it a 5-star book for me.

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Eating for Acid Reflux:
A Handbook and Cookbook for Those with Heartburn
by Jill Sklar & Annabel Cohen (2003)

This bonus 6th book on acid reflux isn’t really a bonus. I honestly didn’t read this book thoroughly, just thumbed through it. Frankly, I was quite sick of reading the same stuff about acid reflux and I felt like I got the information I really needed out of The Acid Reflux Solution.

This book goes very in depth about common causes and all the medical issues surrounding acid reflux. That part looks very detailed, but I did not read that lengthy section. It also goes over treatment and medication options, listing PPIs as part of “maintenance therapy”, which after what I’ve read about long-term use, makes this book seem dated!

What I did found intriguing in this book, though, were the recipes. I think I’d like to try every soup in the book despite the fact that there are no photos for any of them! And I found very few recipes touting the importance of low-fat or fat-free items. I may have to get a copy of this book just for the recipes!

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In the end, any of these books could be helpful if you are suffering from acid reflux or GERD. However, if you don’t want to weed through everything out there, I’d recommend The Acid Reflux Solution.

I don’t have the pain that I did back at the end of April, but I can tell that my esophagus is still somewhat inflamed and irritated. Some days I make good choices, other days I don’t and pay dearly. But at least I have the tools to move in the right direction.

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Do you have any favorite cookbooks or recipes for acid reflux sufferers?

Cheers~
Carrie

3 Gifts I gave in 2016 (and why regifting might be okay!)

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I’ve been pretty overwhelmed with gift lists this year! But as in years past, I wanted to share a few of the gifts I gave last holiday season, in hopes of helping inspire you with your own ideas. Since I found the time for this post a little late, those ideas might be a little last-minute anyway!

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Cookbooks

If you’ve been following this blog the past year, you’ll know I’ve been obsessed with cookbooks! I like checking them out from the library and then if I read one of real value, I find a used copy at {referral links –>>} paperbackwap or thriftbooks to add to my collection. Here the specific cookbooks I gave at gifts last year:

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Charter Fishing Trip

The gift of time is one of my favorite gifts to give. Even though Green Bay is only 4 hours away, it’s really hard to get my parents to come visit us in the Twin Cities. Also, my husband has been wanting to fish with my dad ever since they met and it had not yet happened. I decided to make both things happen!

I created a voucher for a Charter Fishing Trip for the four of us in the Duluth this summer. I let them pick the weekend and gave some options on charter companies and said we’d cover the charter and two-night accommodations. We stayed at The Suites Hotel in a two bedroom suite because the parking lot backs up onto the marina and all we had to do was walk outside to the boat at 5:30am.

My parents – Duluth Lake Superior Lakewalk, June 2017

My dad has been on plenty of fishing trips like these; but I have not. So I don’t think the trip was as special to him as it was to me in a fishing sense; but I think he really loved spending the time with us! Even though it was June, it was COLD out on the water. Locals joke that they only have one month of summer per year – August. Looking back on this photo, I can’t get over how happy I look!

The actual fishing wasn’t exactly what I expected, but we took turns reeling in the fish each time one bit. We made memories!!!

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My dad ended up with the last one and the biggest so far of the season of that charter company. The captain was proud!

Here is the video of him reeling it in. It took a long time. This two-minute video feels long, but it really took about 20 minutes or so to reel that ^ big guy in! If you want to fast forward, it’s about at 1:38 where the good stuff starts happening… you’ll hear from all the swearing at the end! HA!

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And this is one of my fave photos of the trip, with my parents looking at each other, laughing:

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Regifting: Why I think it’s Okay!

I am not anti-regifting. Truth be told, if an item you are given (or purchased) isn’t quite the right fit for you, someone else may get so much more joy out of it! But I’m not talking about your great aunt’s fruitcake or a sweater you hate…

I have two real big rules about re-gifting.

#1 – It must be something that if you won’t use or enjoy that you know that the recipient will.

EXAMPLE: Rob was obsessed with wanting to kayak one year, but didn’t want to buy all of the equipment. He did oodles of research and purchased a blow up kayak similar to this one. The review that sold him: some guy packed it as luggage for his trip to Europe. However, Rob blew it up all of once when we were up at his parents’ lake place, but never put it in the water. Almost two years went by when he realized who could use it more: my brother’s family! They go up north to our cousin’s cottage on the lake every summer. It was in like new condition since it had never been used. Last summer, Rob received a text with a picture of our nephew in it:

#2  – It must not be the *only* gift they receive. You should also give another gift.

For me, this is sort of like a backup. Before regifting, I like to be sure that it’s something the recipient will love. But in case my intuition is completely off, I won’t feel like I completely bombed.

EXAMPLE: You may want to give someone something that is a family heirloom or tradition or something that you once loved, but no longer use. When I was a kid, my mom found an old lava lamp and set it up in my bedroom. I loved the soothing aqua-colored “lava” pooling around when I’d turn it on at night. In retrospect, it was meditative. When we moved, that lamp somehow got lost. So Santa bought me a new one for Christmas, this time with green “lava” because I liked all things Kermit-the-Frog. When starting it up, I liked to call the first little lava balls Kermy Turds. So clever, I know. Recently, I had rediscovered that lava lamp when my parents delivered all of my stuff that I’d left back at their house since college.

My nephew is a HUGE Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan and his favorite color is green. I decided he’d love to have my lamp! He did seem to love it when he opened it on Christmas last year. But recently when I asked about it, his mom said he hasn’t set it up nor turned it on because he is afraid of breaking it! (I may have to change that the next time I’m in town. 😉 ) But my point is here that this was not his only gift last year. I didn’t want that to be his only gift in case he didn’t like or use it.

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If you regift, what are your rules?

What are your tips for last-minute gifts?

Want more unique gift-giving ideas? Here are a few of my posts from past years:

Looking for more ideas? Try these links. Some are older, but I still think they have great ideas:

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Happy Holidays!
Carrie

5 for Friday: Hoopla Review + Agatha Christie

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Because I currently don’t have a commute, I haven’t been listening to audiobooks as much as I’d like to. I’m not one of those people who can really concentrate on one when I’m cooking or cleaning, nor can I do it while I’m lying in bed. I find them best while I’m driving or riding in a car. That being said, I’ve been lucky that I’ve got my husband on the bandwagon to listen to audiobooks when we take a road trip to see family! So I’m still listening to them here and there.

Hoopla – What is it?

When we do these trips, I tend to check how long the audiobook is before I but it on hold at the library. I’ve also just started using our library’s digital media service – Hoopla. With Hoopla, I can check out something like 4 or 6 titles each month using my library card for free! This includes any digital media I can download to a device: ebooks, audiobooks, music and video. I always preferred using the physical CDs in my car, but here is my introduction to my first Hoopla experience.

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Bon Appétempt:
A Coming-of-Age Story (with Recipes!)
by Amelia Morris (nonfiction) – worth a listen (must listen for foodies!)

I was searching for something else on my library’s website, when this book came up. I was intrigued! It was only offered, however, as a digital audiobook on Hoopla. I promptly signed up and decided I’d make the effort to figure out how to use it. At first, I started listening to it in the car, but I’d take such short trips around town, it was hardly worth the work of making sure I’d get the app open and pause it when getting out of the car. I also had to turn up the volume to the highest level to hear it.

I had to figure out when to listen to it. I did end up listening to it in bed when I was going through cookbooks doing some meal planning. I did listen to it on the treadmill. Finally, I listened to it at work when I was doing some data entry one day. The reason was that my audiobook was about to be returned. Hoopla will automatically return the book for you so you don’t have to bother. But I didn’t know how to renew it or if I checked it out again, if it would remember where it left off!

The other thing about listening to audiobooks digitally rather than on a CD is that you can change the speed of the reader. I do like being able to listen to an narrator at 1.25 or sometimes 1.5 times the speed of the reading. Rob says it sounds like chipmunks, but I think that is more if you get to 2x the speed. It sounds strange! But others say that they have become used to it.

In the end, Hoopla automatically returned my book while I was listening to it. I checked it out again right away and it remembered where I left off! It didn’t seem to count against the number of titles I check out each month because, essentially, it’s the same title.

All of that being said, I LOVED THIS BOOK! I am so glad I found it. Morris’s stories about recipes she’s cooked from magazines and how all of this came about it her life are fun. But this book also addresses the struggle we all have in learning how to cook. The attempt at cooking and learning what we like, don’t like and what is worth it. I started following her blog of the same name. I liked listening to this book and hearing the voice behind her story, but I missed having the printed recipes included in this book because they made my mouth water!

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Behind Her Eyes
by Sarah Pinborough 
(fiction) – on the fence

There is a lot of wine-drinking in this book! This is a thriller of sorts, but not what I expected. It’s a little weird. I’m still not sure what I think about it. I think it might work as a movie, though.

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Frost Bite:
everyday food fresh from the freezer

by Susan Austin (nonfiction, cookbook) – worth a flip

I’m conflicted by this cover! On one hand, you are a cookbook – shouldn’t you have something appetizing on the cover? On the other hand, the color is perfect for something frozen… and your freezer is closed – don’t you want to open it up and use what’s inside?

I discovered this book because it was recommended by Jules Clancy, author of 5 Ingredients, 10 Minutes. But a quick flip through, while interesting, didn’t send me swooning. I couldn’t find this book in my local library, so I ordered it on ThriftBooks (<–refer-a-friend link) for $5. I got a signed copy! You always know the condition of the used book you’ll be getting on Thrift Books, but you never know about those bonus surprises!

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And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie (fiction, radio broadcast dramatization) – worth a listen

Do you remember when in just the course of a few months I had read several books referring to Agatha Christie novels? It was all so strange and I thought it was probably time I checked out this classic mystery novelist. But out of all her books, where did one begin!? I googled for the best books to start with to get a taste of her writing. In the end, I decided to go with Murder on the Orient Express with the intention of reading it before the movie came out.

But then, Modern Mrs. Darcy highly recommended And Then There Were None on audio read by Dan Stevens, who played Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey. It was available on Hoopla, so I promptly downloaded it for our drive back to Green Bay. I also picked up a CD audio version of the book as a backup if for some reason we had trouble with the download in the car.

Unfortunately, even with the volume turned up all the way, we couldn’t hear the Dan Stevens version on Hoopla all that well. I was glad to have the backup. But even with the little we heard of the Dan Stevens version, the CD version was notably different. It was then I realized that we were not listening to a reading of Christie’s book, but a BBC radio dramatization of the novel! It was decidedly well-done; but the whole story was told in an hour and a half versus the 6 hours expected with the reading of the book.

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Murder on the Orient Express
by Agatha Christie (fiction) – worth a read

This book took me a bit to get into and to learn all of the characters. That being said, I loved the ending. And guess what? I did see the movie! Just this past week. It’s a rare occasion, but I thought the movie was even better.

At the time of this writing, the movie is only getting 58% on Rotten Tomatoes; but I personally loved the movie adaptation. Although some of the characters were changed/combined, I felt like they were much more developed. Kenneth Branagh makes an excellent Poirot! He directed this film and I hope he decides to continue making more movies in her Hercules Poirot series. It felt like he was able to take Christie’s storyline and add more depth, more dramatization and even a bit of humor.

Something that was also captured in this movie was the time period. Rob and I wanted to ride that train! There was so much attention to detail to time and place, something that wasn’t really described in the book. But I highly believe that was because Christie was writing during the present! (The book was published in 1934.)

Rob noticed that the original movie version (1974) remains at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. I am now on the waitlist for that DVD from the library. It will be fun to compare!

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Do you use a digital service to download audiobooks?
If so, what’s been your experience?
Have you read Agatha Christie?
If so, what’s your favorite novel?

Cheers~
Carrie

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Friday Five: 2 Great Books + 3 Cookbooks

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Has it really been a month since I’ve last written? Well, I’ve been working my butt off, but also enjoying summer!

Anyway, I’ve been very lucky to have picked up two excellent books this time around. I didn’t know much about them, which I prefer. The cookbooks were mainly flip-throughs!

Love Warrior
by Glennon Doyle Melton 
(non-fiction) – MUST READ

I have not been through anything that this author has been through, nor did I know anything about the book going in. But I felt all the feels. It’s weird that I could relate to her probably for no other reason than pure, raw emotion.

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The Tucci Table
by Stanley Tucci 
(non-fiction, cookbook) – worth a flip

To be 100% honest, I found this cookbook because I did a search for “trout” on my library website. We recently went on a charter fishing trip with my parents and the haul of trout that we brought back will not be consumed by Rob nor my mother. I need recipes! This cookbook, while it didn’t deliver on the trout recipe I looked for, it does have a few really great traditional recipes and I loved reading the stories behind them. I found a recipe for Tuscan Tomato Soup, that I believe I’ll be making all winter long when tomatoes are not in season and I can use my fave canned San Marzanos! The author looked familiar to me and when I looked him, I realized why: Stanley Tucci is an actor.

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Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One
by Joe Yonan (non-fiction, cookbook) – worth a flip

 

Oh how excited I was to check out this cookbook! I’m not sure how I discovered it… I will tell you, it’s not for the novice cook. There are some great foodie-lover recipes; but other than the 12-Hour Tomatoes, I probably won’t be making anything from this book.

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DASH DIET DETOX
by Kate Barrington (non-fiction, cookbook) – skip

I was just looking for a few healthy recipes here, but I didn’t really find anything new.

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This is How It Always Is
by Laurie Frankel (fiction) – MUST READ

This was a popular book on my library wait list and on the Modern Mrs Darcy blog. A description I read at some point described a quirky family with secrets. This book is so much more than that. And it is a book that needed to be written now. It’s a book that I want to scream at the top of my lungs for everyone to read. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Highly Recommended. 

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What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

 

Cheers~
Carrie

A Good Mix of 5 Books for Friday!

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A good mix of audio, thriller, cookbooks this week. Oh, and there’s that one about a dog… 🙂

OUTLANDER
by Diana Galbadon 
(fiction, audiobook) – DNF

I sort of  lied about not listening to audiobooks until this winter when my commute resumes… because there was this one. I’ve seen Outlander on so many must-read lists, but it is Just. So. Long. (Approx 860 pages.) My mother-in-law even said she loved it and that it truly was worth reading.

Then I spotted it on an audiobook list and thought about checking it out from the library, but realized that I with my 1 hr commute three days a week (at the time), I wouldn’t be able to get this 32+ hour audiobook back to the library when it was due. So I asked Rob if instead of listening to music on our drive to Michigan and back to visit his parents if he’d consider listening to an audiobook. He agreed.

After we got on the road and situated for our road trip, I popped in the first CD (there are 28!) and Rob said, “Oh, no! A Brit!?” I would agree that sometimes British narrators are difficult to follow, depending on the context of the book. But due to storyline, it was only appropriate because the main character is British. I told him to give it some time. It often takes me a bit to get used to the voice of any narrator when I start an audiobook. I told him that we could eject the CD and go back to radio any time he wanted. I was just glad he was open to the idea!

We loved the whole idea around this book! It did seem slow at some points and I will admit that my mind drifted a bit from time to time, but we kept listening. At one point, Rob asked what genre this was because it really was hard to tell. A quick google search led to a description of this story as romance. I wasn’t about to tell Rob that! He would have grimaced and stopped listening! Plus, it truly is much more than that. It starts out as part historical fiction and the time travel turns it into fantasy and war fiction and love and romance and then maybe… erotica? Oh boy! This book really does have it all.

After reading some reviews, I will agree that this book does take some time to get into and can be slow-moving, but the characters really develop into something special. However, Rob and I quickly realized that by the end of our trip, we were only going to get half way through all of the CDs!

At one point, I told Rob that we could pick this up on the TV series to move everything along a little more quickly. But in the end, as the book got better, we realized we’d miss listening to the book. We decided that we are going to pick up the audiobook again and finish the second half on our trip to Michigan in the fall.

~

I See You
by Claire Mackintosh
 (fiction) – worth a read

After reading Mackintosh’s I Let You Go earlier this year, I put myself on the wait list for her second book. I found it funny that she addressed the issue of the “dreaded second novel” in her acknowledgments, about how that second one never quite compares… And I think that may be true with this one. It’s a great book, but very different. I loved the setting (Welsh countryside) and interesting twist midway through I Let You Go. This one takes place in the tubes of London. It’s quite creepy, but well-done. I love how most of her characters feel like real, average people.

~

Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat
by Chrissy Teigen
 (cookbook) – worth a read

Tiegen makes a point in her book to say something to the effect that she didn’t want to write a cookbook about salads, but also that she didn’t want to write one that said, “Look at me! I can eat whatever I want!” {I don’t remember the exact words, so I’m paraphrasing here.} But truly, I kind of feel like the latter is exactly what she did!

This book is about flavor – and not compromising that. I chose a few recipes that I intend to make. Rob’s new fave obsession is Mexican Street Corn, so that is on the docket.  But to be quite honest, the recipes I have listed to try, tend to be the lightest ones out of the cookbook! Creamy Parmesan Skillet Eggs, Chunky Creamy Mushroom Soup and Sriracha Caesar Salad. Yes, please!

~

A Dog’s Way Home
by W. Bruce Cameron (fiction) – MUST READ

I don’t think you know how long I’ve waited for this book. I first read Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose a couple of years ago (way before the movie, which I have yet to see) and just loved the concept of a book written from a dog’s perspective. The way Cameron writes, too, is so compelling that when a chapter ends and I tell myself I’ll pause there, I want to keep reading because there is almost always a cliff-hanger!

I immediately read the follow-up book A Dog’s Journey. After finishing that book, I went in search of Cameron’s other books because I craved more books written from a dog’s point-of-view. Alas, those were his only two. I’ve read a couple of his other books, but was still longing for this style. A Dog’s Way Home did not disappoint. I again loved the perspective, the storyline and how it gripped my heart. Any dog lover should read and savor. These books are some of my favorites of all time.

~

Twin Cities Chef’s Table:
Extraordinary Recipes from the City of Lakes to the Capital City
by Stephanie A. Meyer (non-fiction, cookbook) – worth a read

It’s almost a secret that our Twin Cities house some wonderful culinary delights. I have been touting for years that we live in a highly underrated foodie city! When I brought this book home from the library and put it on the coffee table, Rob thumbed through it and said, “Why don’t we HAVE this book?! We need to own it!”

This book was published in 2014 and it is so fun to read about some of our favorite places (we’ve been to about 25 of the restaurants listed in here), grieve those that have closed (approximately 10) and regret those that we never made it to before they closed. That being said, I wouldn’t realistically make any of the recipes out of this book. Maybe that’s why I am a diner at these restaurants, not a chef. 🙂

Still, only three years later, this book already has become a piece of history – illustrating top restaurants in the Twin Cities at a place in time. We all know how the dining culture evolves with trends coming and going. But one thing I think will remain the same for years to come: relying on farm fresh, local ingredients and sustainability whenever possible. The only thing that’ll change? The creative ways in which to use ingredients!

~

Have you ever listened to audiobook with someone else?

Cheers~
Carrie

5 for Friday – What I Read This Spring

Standard

I’m a bit behind on what I’ve read and listened to, but here’s what was in front of me this spring… just before our trip to Charleston. FYI – There are some great ones/favorites in here!

The Artist
by Suzanne Hagelin 
(fiction) – on the fence

I’m guessing I found this book as a free download on the Amazon Kindle store. It had good reviews and I “purchased” it on a whim. Although I don’t own a tablet or e-reader, I like to have a few Kindle books on my phone in case I’m stranded in line somewhere without a book. I don’t tend to enjoy reading books on my phone. This was a shorter book with an intriguing premise; but I’m not sure I like how it unfolded. As usual, I’m just not fond of many endings to books.

~

Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead 
(fiction) – must read

This book has an ongoing, growing waiting list at my library and for good reason. I can’t say that I’ve ever read a historical novel like this. Whitehead is a wonderfully descriptive writer who captures such depth in imagining place and time you can almost feel it. I loved this book… the only part I didn’t was the ending. Because this piece could truly have kept on going.

~

Behold the Dreamers
by Imbolo Mbue 
(fiction, audiobook) – must read/listen

Somewhere along the way, I not only had reserved this on my to-read list, but also as one as I should listen to on audio. I would definitely agree that this is the route you should take there. This book probably rates up there as one of my favorite audiobooks of all time! The narrator has a phenomenal ability to do a wide range of voices and accents that feel completely authentic. In today’s world of immigrant debates, I think this book is highly relevant to our time.

~

Sheet Pan Suppers:
120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight from the Oven
*Plus Breakfasts. Desserts. and Snacks, Too!

by Molly Gilbert (non-fiction, cookbook) – skip

This is one of those cookbooks where I started reading and got really excited about it. I love the idea of pulling an entire meal out of the oven all arranged and cooked on one pan. Then after putting the cookbook aside for a few days and returning to it later, I lost interest. I only found a couple of recipes I could actually find myself making.

~

Dinner: A Love Story
by Jenny Rosenstrach (non-fiction, cookbook/memoir) – must read

Kat at Tenaciously Yours posts weekly photos of her dinners and sites many of her meals as coming from Dinner: A Love Story. With my plan to borrow one cookbook per week from the library this year, this seemed a logical choice.

I completely adored this cookbook, but not for the reasons I thought! Since this book is part memoir, it does read just like a story… which is how I often read cookbooks anyway. After flagging several recipes, I decided to just purchase the cookbook myself. This is why it’s helpful to check cookbooks out of the library – you can decide whether or not you want to own them!

~

This is a sixth one, but I’m adding it because it’ll be my last audiobook for a while, until this winter when my commute resumes.

M Train
by Patti Smith (non-fiction, audiobook) – DNF

I had this on a list of recommended audiobooks. At the time, I didn’t know it was non-fiction, nor the content of the story. I am not familar with author Patti Smith either. At first listen, I couldn’t believe that they had her narrate her own book on audio. It was monotonous and dry and I had hard time paying attention. The writing is excellent, but I couldn’t get past her voice. But after a while, it grew on me. (Which often seems to be the case with audiobooks.) Then it just felt right that she was reading this memoir of sorts. Because it was her experience.

I did abandon this book however, because it was what I was listening to when my commute came to a halt. After that, I was in the car for no more than a few minutes at a time by myself. It didn’t make sense to keep going when I was having a hard time concentrating with my own circumstances as it was. But her experiences (and love of black coffee) and the content of the book is interesting enough that I may revisit when my commute resumes this winter.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

Cheers~
Carrie