what i’ve been reading in 2015

•December 10, 2015 • 2 Comments

I managed to read some books this year! Most of these were pretty light, but I would recommend them all.

  1. Twelve Years a Slave (by Solomon Northup). After all of the Oscar hoopla over this movie, I was interested in reading the book, though I still haven’t found time to watch the movie yet. I became especially interested in reading this book when I learned that it was a true story and Solomon was living in my hometown, Saratoga Springs, when he was captured. This book was a gripping account of human strength through all sorts of atrocities.
  2. Yes Please (by Amy Poehler). I was ready for a change of pace after Twelve Years a Slave, but stuck with the autobiographical format to read Yes Please. I love Amy Poehler, mostly from her work on the TV show Parks and Recreation. I didn’t love this book as much as Tina Fey’s or Mindy Kaling’s books, but I did enjoy reading it and still love Amy.
  3. Me Before You (by Jojo Moyes). Ready for a novel, I used Amazon’s suggestion for people who enjoyed Where’d You Go, Berenadette? (which I enjoyed immensely pre-motherhood) and found this popular and well-reviewed tear-jerker. It apparently has at least one sequel, but I don’t know if I want to spend more time crying in my office during my lunch break.
  4. Big Little Lies (by Liane Moriarty). A funny page-turner of a mystery novel, told with various narrators.
  5. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban (by Malala Yousafzai). Malala Yousafzai is such an inspiration, and now she is also the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner as she works tirelessly for education for all girls around the world. The book takes a little while to gain momentum, but is definitely worth the effort. Malala spends a lot of time introducing the reader to her family and cultural history, which is maybe not quite as engaging as her personal story, but important to understand in terms of how the Taliban came to power in Pakistan. Stick with it and become a Malala superfan like me. I am very excited to see the documentary He Named Me Malala when I have some time.
  6. The Royal We (by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan). I’ve been reading Heather and Jessica’s witty fashion blog, Go Fug Yourself, for many years, so of course I was excited to read their novel. I only have a passing interest in the British royal family that this novel is loosely inspired by, but this is a fun story that is full of engaging characters. It was a great airplane read!
  7. The Rosie Project (by Graeme Simsion). I love a quirky narrator, and this book’s narrator and protagonist is a great one. Don Tillman is an eccentric genetics professor who has begun “The Wife Project,” a quantitative search for a partner to share his life with, and hilarity ensues.
  8. The Rosie Effect (by Graeme Simsion). The sequel to The Rosie Project is not quite as funny and touching as the initial book, but it was an enjoyable and quick read.

I got some new books that I am looking forward to reading over Christmas vacation and beyond. They are Extraordinary Means (by Robyn Schneider), Made You Up (by Francesca Zappia), The Beach House (by Mary Alice Monroe), The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (by Jan-Philipp Sendker), and The Magicians (by Lev Grossman).

Have you read any good books lately?

hot cocoa mix

•November 8, 2015 • Leave a Comment

IMG_6459

As fall turns to winter, I’ve been craving hot chocolate. The hot chocolate mixes in stores usually have dairy in them, or are overpriced, so I decided to make my own mix. A lot of the vegan hot chocolate mix recipes on the internet require ingredients that non-gourmet cooks don’t have around the house, but I found a recipe here that is totally reasonable.

I added a little less than 1/8 teaspoon salt to the batch and used the Enjoy Life semisweet mini chocolate chips. I like to make my hot cocoa by adding two heaping tablespoons of this mix to a mug of hot coconut milk and stirring until the chocolate chips are mostly melted. Yum!

great sand dunes national park

•October 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment

IMG_6160

We visited Great Sand Dunes National Park in August. It’s a uniquely beautiful place, and though we were worried that it might be unpleasantly hot that time of year, the weather was very comfortable (high temperature each day in the low 80s). There is a creek that flows at the base of the sand dunes, and we expected that it would be dry by that time of year, but a wide shallow stream was still flowing. The stream was really fun for little ones to play in, and pleasant for everyone to cool their feet in. We also rented sand sleds and had fun sledding down the dunes. We briefly attempted hiking up the tallest dunes (which are the tallest in North America!), but there was a lot of wind during the morning we made the attempt, and hiking through sandstorm-like conditions was not our idea of a good time. This National Park is not super well known, and rather isolated, so we enjoyed that it was not crowded.

2015-08-09 17.28.44

We stayed at the Great Sand Dunes Lodge, the only non-camping option near the park. Check out the lovely view from our patio at the Lodge, and our hummingbird friend! The Lodge was perfect for us: a quick drive from our area of interest, with a quiet room including a small fridge and microwave, and an indoor pool in case we needed an indoor activity during our stay. Our two-year-old loved the “sand dudes” and proclaimed that she wanted to live there!

IMG_5802

easy strawberry chia jam

•September 15, 2015 • Leave a Comment

IMG_6215

We spent several summer weekend mornings picking berries at our favorite local farm, Garden Sweet. Mostly we just gobbled those sweet berries up within a few days (or hours!), but I also got a chance to incorporate them into some yummy treats like strawberry banana pancakes and raspberry orange corn muffins. And I finally tried my hand at making jam, but the easy kind of jam…chia jam!

I liked the “easy chia jam” instructions that I found here. I opted to briefly cook our strawberries, although it’s not strictly necessary to do so. And the only other ingredients were 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 heaping tablespoon maple syrup, and 2 heaping tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon chia seeds. I went light on the maple syrup since Jeff is a very low sugar kinda guy, but even he thought more maple syrup would have been nice. The consistency was great, and here’s what the finished product looked like on a pice of toast! Yum!

IMG_6256

the best gluten-free bread

•February 6, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I’ve tried a lot of gluten-free breads over the past few years, and until recently, Udi’s millet-chia bread was my default bread. It’s pretty good toasted, and not bad fresh. That probably doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but most gluten-free breads are at best edible when toasted and barely edible fresh. Then one morning at the grocery store, Jeff noticed Canyon Bakehouse gluten-free bread. I decided to give their 7-grain bread a chance, and the rest is history.

Their slogan is “love bread again,” and it is apt. This bread tastes great fresh or toasted, and is even a little chewy! Bonus #1: their products are also dairy-free (and nut and soy free, although I am lucky enough to be able to eat those things). Bonus #2: they are based in Loveland, CO, which is just south of where I live! I like being able to support a local business, but even if they aren’t local to you, it looks like they sell their products in thousands of stores, and ship from their online shop.

colorado moonrise

•January 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I took this photo in early January, when we had a bit of snow. Some scenes are so lovely that they even look nice in phone snapshots taken through the window of a moving car.

photo-4

poor neglected blog

•January 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I didn’t publish a single post in 2014! I’m sorry, little blog, but being a working mom is exhausting (and also not the topic of this blog, so enough about that). But in the last few months I’ve taken more photos of things that aren’t my family, and even experimented in the kitchen a bit. So let’s prepare for a small blogging comeback in 2015!

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 86 other followers