What I’m Into – June 2013

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So I know that my last post was a linkup, and here I am following it up with yet another one, but  Leigh’s delightful What I’m Into has become a monthly favorite for me.  I look forward to remembering and collecting the best bits of my month in one place.  Perhaps I just miss the concept of online journaling (my first blog quite a few moons ago).  At any rate, there’s a mish-mash of old and new gems here.  My June was lovely and a little hard, and a joyous start to summer.

Books:

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What I Read

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

This sweet YA novel was recommended in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide, and I loved it!  The voice of the narrator/main character was compulsively readable, and I loved how the author wrapped up a coming of age story with a little mystery, humor and science fiction involving my favorite children’s book, A Wrinkle In Time.  Fellow L’engle fans will adore this book as well.  Perfect book to start off my summer reading.

Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

I purposely read this one slow to fully enjoy it.  The thing I loved most about this book is Glennon’s writing style…she reminds me of Anne Lamott’s little sister or cousin.  This book came my way at the perfect time, its definitely one of my faves of the year.

I think one of the keys to happiness is accepting that I am never going to be perfectly happy.  Life is uncomfortable.  So I might as well get busy loving the people around me.  I’m going to take care of my friends.  I’m going to find peace in the ‘burbs’.  I’m going to quit chasing happiness long enough to notice it smiling right at me.

Comfort Me With Apples by Ruth Reichl

What a perfect summer read!  Reichl’s writing is seamless, and reads quickly.  She doesn’t just write about food, though her descriptions of food and her travels are perfect. (I kept underlining her descriptions of food like her words were a textbook).  Reading this book reminded me of my days as a traveling performing adventurer, and made me yearn for the vibrancy of those times.  Her story also made me so happy I have a deeply loving marriage and am stable and somewhat rooted in my life.  This book also made me want to write more about food, and remember to savor the everyday moments of a good meal. Another one of my faves I’ve read this year.

In my mouth was the cool of the sea, the sunshine in the chili, the taste of rice growing in the paddies…

A New Particular Favorite Trio of Books

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Every year in the summer months, I become an even bigger reading nerd.  The beginning of summer has been the PERFECT time to discover the writings of Ruth Reichl!   I first read through Comfort Me With Apples after seeing Shauna Niequist recommend it in Bread & Wine.  (And I was intrigued by the title – a reference to a Scripture in Song of Solomon–but lest you think the book is religious in nature it.is.NOT.)

Ruth’s writing style drew me in from the start, and the more I read, the more I was hooked.  So much so, that when I finished the book, I raced to the library to check out Tender At The Bone (her first memoir – I think I’m reading them a bit ‘out of order’) and the hilarious Garlic & Sapphires.  I probably shouldn’t read them so fast, because I’ll be sad when they’re done, but they are ALL.SO.GOOD. Color me a happy summer-reading-book-nerd.

What I’m Reading

Tender At The Bone & Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl, Light From Heaven by Jan Karon, The Right To Write by Julia Cameron & The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text For Writing & Life by Marion Roach Smith

What I’m Studying

The Law of Love: Lessons From The Pages of Deuteronomy – A Beth Moore Lecture Study with Articles by Melissa Moore Fitzpatrick

 

In The Blogisphere

Michelle DeRusha – When You’re Yearning For A Place In the In-Crowd

Sarah Bessey – In Which I Preach {with the audio link to her teaching included!}  In Which We Are Reclaiming Feminism & In Which I Lose My Blogging Mojo

Leigh Kramer – I am

Adam Shankman Breaks Down So You Think You Can Dance Top 20 

Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy – Reading Is Better When It’s Done Wine Tasting Style

Sheila @ Deliberate Reader – A Literary Bucket List

On My Blog

I wasn’t the best blogger this month, to be honest.  I realized scrolling through my posts, I wrote a lot of unfinished drafts where I didn’t hit the ‘publish’ button, but I did manage to share with you all about my favorite bookstore in the world, as well as give you that bookstore’s playlist.

My Best Friend’s Wedding

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My sweet best friend got hitched this month, and I was ecstatic to be a part of the festivities!  She wore a gorgeous, vintage-style dress that was perfectly ‘her’, and glowed like the best of brides!  After a sweet and intimate church service, we partied it up in the tallest building in Dallas, in an elegant, yet still fun and relaxed reception. (With the BEST food I’ve had at a wedding–which was perfect for the lifelong ‘foodie’ bride).  Watching my soul twin  experience moments like her first dance with her husband, take in all the love from everyone there, and be the shining well deserved center of attention (when she often chooses to ‘blend in’ as she is always there help others and give so much of her self) made me beside myself with happiness.

What I Listened To

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Though there was much June beauty to be had, my heart is still grieving the loss of a step-parent, and a grandmother with a limit to her earthly days.  When the pain goes deep for me, I most always turn to music for solace.  On a rather tough day, I received this beautiful GIFT in my mailbox from Allume‘s own Logan of Life For Dessert.  I had won a giveaway over at her blog, and this glorious album of redemptive and healing songs was the prize.  It couldn’t have come at a more providential moment.   More Than Rubies is an album by singer/songwriters Christa Wells & Nicole Witt.  The songs here are soothing, acoustic and full of piano, violin and profoundly beautiful lyrics.  I’ve been playing it nonstop in my car from the moment I got it–its one to pick up if you need some soul refreshment.

I’ve also downloaded beautiful music from Elenowen (Head & Heart), Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors (I Need A Place to Lay My Head) and Sleeping At Last (You are Enough).

My New Happy Place

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Reinstating my library card in my hometown has already given me the great delight of checking out STACKS of books, and I fully plan to come to this lovely spot for some writing sessions this summer.  I know the invention of the Kindle is a beautiful thing, but I just can’t give up the wonderful feeling of a book in my hands.

Nights Out At The Theatre

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As much as I wish I could report that I’m in a show, my audition season did not yield a performing gig this summer.  Rather than mope, I’m thrilled to support live theatre by sitting in the audience of our regional theatre’s summer season – and a fabulous one it is for sure! June saw my hubby and I attending the hilarious Spamalot, and one of my favorite-must-be-in-this-show-at-least-once-preferably-twice-or-more-before-I-go-to-heaven musicals, Les Miserables.  Watching my friend Nick sing and act an exquisite performance of Jean Valjean brought tears to my eyes.   (Once upon a time years ago, we were in A Little Night Music together.)  The sheer talent of the voices and acting performances of the entire company were breathtaking. So grateful for theatre and the way it feels my heart and spirit with joy.

What I Made In The Kitchen

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I’m happy to report I was finally able to cook a bit more this month.  One of my favorite things has been cooking the recipes from Bread & Wine (and really, truly, I AM still writing a blog series about that.  I’ve just realized I’m the world’s SLOWEST food writer. Sigh.).

 I read a delightful post from Kamille at Redeeming The Table where she came up with a riff on Shauna’s recipe, and tweaked it so her daughter could eat it. I think Shauna’s version is already gluten free, but she made it vegan.  I loved some of the changes she made, but not all of them were to my taste, so I combined the recipes to make my own version, and it was delicious!  I lowered the amount of pecans, (since I’m allergic) and used the lightly sweetened variety.  My additions from Kamille’s version were adding a touch more maple syrup, lemon juice and zest and a teensy bit of vanilla extract. (Kamille also used coconut, but my husband and I don’t like the texture).  As I adjusted the pecan amount, I added some more oats.   Kamille’s recipe also adds a lovely dash of cinnamon.

If you’re interested, here’s the specifics:

My Mish-Mash Version of Blueberry Crisp

Berry Layer

  • 4 cups blueberries
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1-2 tbsp real maple syrup (to personal taste–can omit here if you’d like)

Crisp topping layer

  • 1 & 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats (added more because of less pecans)
  • 1/4 cup sweetened pecans, lightly chopped
  • 1/2 cup almond meal (cheapest is Trader Joe’s brand, or make in food processor)
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • light sprinkle of cinnamon (1/8 tsp, but I put in slightly more)

I used Shauna’s instructions for baking, which are to put berries, followed by crisp topping mixture into an 8 by 8 pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, and up to 10-15 minutes longer if fruit is frozen.  I think I left mine in a little longer – closer to a hour, because you want the topping to be crisp and golden, and the blueberries bubbling a bit into the topping.

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We also had a festive day of eating at our friends 1st Annual Fish Fry.  They set an old-fashioned fryer up in the back yard, and used a homemade batter recipe that was scrumptious – the crust was crisp, but surprisingly not too oily, and very light for fried food.  My sweet husband got his Father’s recipe for homemade beer batter jalapeno hush puppies (that I’m pretty sure has been passed down a couple of generations – we actually had to order self-rising cornmeal from Amazon, as no one carried it in the local grocery stores!).   I didn’t end up helping my husband one bit with the recipe – he whipped up the dough, and fried every single li’l hush puppy himself – I was so proud.   Alas, it was not a day for the diet, but it was a day for light summer breezes, great food, and wonderful time with new and old friends.

What I’m Looking Forward To In July

A pool party and some time at home with friends, reading lots of books, more water aerobics, and what’s sure to be an epic family reunion at the beach!

What were You into this month?  What are some of your summer favorites?
What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

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8 comments on “What I’m Into – June 2013

  1. I *loved* the Reichl books, and keep hoping that she’ll write another one, about her life after leaving the Times. And the Stead book is one I’ve recommended a bunch since reading it. So clever.

    Thanks for the link love!

    1. So love your blog Sheila – it was a JOY to share your post! (I need to write one myself!) I’ve been reading interviews with Reichl online, and apprently, she inked a 3 book deal with Random House, and one of those books is supposed to be that memoir – yay!!! (I think she has her first novel coming out next year. Hope it will be good, but I wish it was her memoir 🙂 I LOVE her books – am reading Garlic & Sapphires now–will be sad when I don’t have more of her books to read – she’s such a wonderful writer!

  2. Yay! Always good! I loved Leigh’s “I Am” as well…I thought I might try it some time. And ohhhhh, Les Mis. I’ve seen it 7 times and I could watch it once every day. And every night. That’s so amazing that you performed with Valjean! And the hushpuppies….my mouth is watering. YUM!

  3. So many good things in your list! How are you liking The Right to Write? I’m working through The Artist’s Way right now as a summer project.

    1. Thanks for reading! 🙂 I’ve actually just started “Right To Write”, and am not too far in, but I really like it so far! I loved “The Artist’s Way” – I worked through that book after college–it’s a favorite.

  4. Reichl is a fantastic writer, so sad Gourmet has closed it’s doors with her no longer serving as editor. I didn’t know you were a performance major or performance person. I was going to major in performing arts in college, but decided otherwise. I love theatrics. Ben treated me to Les Mis last summer for our 10 year anniversary. It was splendid and terribly wonderful. Tears, lots. After seeing it live the on screen version was kind of “eh” to me. Did you feel that way?

    I have been so lacking in writing these days. I’m in awe of Sarah Bessey and her ability to keep up with it and her family. I guess it’s where we find ourselves right–I find it in the kitchen most days. I hope you’re well and I’m so glad you got the gift of being in your best friend’s wedding. I meant to pop back over here, but my month flew by. I see why your May was so hard and sad. I’m so sorry Sarah.

    1. Thanks so much for saying hello and reading Kamille! I have LOVED discovering Reichl’s books this summer. I read an interview where she said she’s got her first novel coming out next year, and is currently working on her memoir of the years working at Gourmet – can’t WAIT to read that one! Love that you love theatre as I do. I spent a good deal of my professional life performing in musicals – its in my blood. I was like you – I did love the movie in general, but the people who couldn’t sing, and it was then labeled ‘an acting style’ – give me a break! 🙂 (But I LOVED Hugh Jackman). I’m so glad to hear another blogger say they are lacking in writing this summer, b/c lots of life events are happening right now, and my words just haven’t flowed in this space. I too am in awe of Sarah Bessey – she has SUCH raw talent, and her words are life-giving to me. Thanks so much for your kind words – I love reading your blog, and seeing your instagrams – I hope we can meet in real life one day! 🙂

  5. If I didn’t have a huge stack of books from the library right now, I’d be diving into Comfort Me With Apples. I can’t wait to read Reichl’s other books! Thanks for linking to my post! Glad you had a great time at your friend’s wedding.

    Thanks for linking up with What I’m Into!

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