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book list 2010

Edinburgh has proven to be the perfect city to read in. Long, dark winter nights leave lots of time for cuddling up under a blanket with a good book and a cup of tea, while the long summer nights are perfect for grabbing a book and blanket and heading to a park to make the most of the gloriously long summer days you get this far north. Add to that a fabulous book club and a wonderful group of friends that are as enamored with reading as I am, and this past year has proved to hold some of the best stories I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying in a long time.

So, in chronolgical order, I give my book list for 2010:

The Elephanta Suite: Three Novellas, Paul Theroux
When We Were Romans, Matthew Kneale
English Passengers, Matthew Kneale
Gourmet Rhapsody, Muriel Barbery
Broken, Daniel Clay
Masterpiece, Elise Broach
A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube, Patrick Fermor
In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer
The Careful Use of Compliments, Alexander McCall Smith
The River Why, David James Duncan
The Help, Kathryn Stockett
Home, Marilynne Robinson
Girl With a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
The Island, Victoria Hislop
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark
The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor
Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides

I love the way a good story can completely transport me to another time and place, and yet continue to reverberate in my own life long after I’ve finished reading it. Out of the 22 books I read this past year, the following are at the top of my list and books that I would hardily recommend to all.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer

This book is a quick read, but a very sweet story that is written through a series of letters. It is set just after WWII and tells the story of the island of Guernsey (one of the islands off the coast of England). It is a very tender book, and a great vacation book or one to curl up with over a cup of tea.

The River Why, David James Duncan

David James Duncan has long been a favorite author and The River Why only reinforced my love of his writing. This story is based in the Pacific Northwest and reading it transported me back home and helped to ease some of the homesickness I was feeling shortly after we moved here. He also wrote The Brothers K which is another excellent book and either one would make a great addition to your book lists for 2011.

Home, Marilynne Robinson
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson is an author I’ve heard about, but had never read anything by until this year when I read Home. This book holds some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read and a story that has stayed with me and continued to touch me months after my first reading. Because this book had such a profound impact on me I had to read Marilynne Robinson’s other two novels, Gilead and Housekeeping. These books are equally good and all three have already become dear favorites that I return to regularly simply to soak in more of the beauty of both the writing and the stories. Read them, you won’t be disappointed.

I’m now busy pulling together a list of must reads for 2011. So far my list includes: To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee Harper), Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë), Sister of my Heart (Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni), The Sweet Life in Paris (David Lebovitz), Persuasion (Jane Austen), The Country Diaries: A Year in the British Countryside (Alan Taylor), and At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Bill Bryson).

My reading goal for 2011 is to read thirty books, so I’m happily accepting book suggestions. Any ideas would be most welcome!

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Well, it has been a ridiculously long week at work, so today is a day I plan to fill with all my favorite things… A hike through the country, a visit to the farmer’s market, a trip to check out a groovy grassroots venture here in Edinburgh, and an evening with new friends. Delightful. So what could make a wonderful day even more wonderful? Pancakes. And not just any pancakes, I’m talking about a little domestic art to start the day off right. I recently stumbled across this amazing blog (go check it out… this guy is INCREDIBLE!) and couldn’t wait to give it a try myself. I decided my first attempt at pancake art ought to reflect a bit of Scotland. Definitely room for improvement, but my mind is already spinning with new ideas for pancake creations!

Just in case you need interpretation… it’s a wee sheep, standing on a lovely field of homemade applesauce! 🙂

 

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happy 4th of july!

Hope your day is filled with good conversation, food and fireworks and is spent with those you love.

(To make these cookies you can find the recipe here and icing directions here.)

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I know some of you are fans of this brilliant man. Me too.

As I’ve been thinking about this blog and wanting to get back to posting the lyrics of one of Mr. Diamond’s songs has been echoing around in my head. It sums my sentiments up perfectly. Life has been BUSY since my last post and I miss this little blog! More to come this week, but for now take a listen here.

Anyone else out there have a favorite Neil Diamond song?

Back soon!

Hello

My friend
Hello.
Just called to let you know

I think about you ev’ry night
And I know it’s late
But I couldn’t wait

Hello.

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perfection

This afternoon I partook in one of the most delightful aspects of British life. Cream tea. It consists of a nice pot of tea, scones, jam and clotted cream, (which if you have never tried it, you must… pure bliss). Add to that a fantastic new-to-me read, an awesome location, and a stroll through the art gallery with my sweetie, and you’ve got one happy girl on your hands. All I can say to such loveliness is, “May I have some more, please?”

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grammy

My sweet Grammy passed away last night, just a week shy of her 85th birthday. Grammy was an amazing woman. She was raised in rural Colorado, went to college during a time when most women didn’t, worked for the military in post WWII Europe, raised two children, loved her husband fiercely, was incredibly independent (she was widowed over 25 years ago), a world traveler, (it’s thanks to her that I’ve been to Antarctica!) and was an amazingly loving, devoted, kind, and generous grandmother.  Grammy was unwavering in her unconditional love of both my sister and myself. We knew there was never any choice we might make, or not make that would cause her to love us any less. She loved us fully. Grammy loved spending an afternoon with us in her favorite recliners just chatting and telling stories from her adventurous life. And I loved listening to them, she was a great storyteller. Grammy was also an amazing seamstress, and between her and my mother I feel so thankful to have been passed on the love of sewing. Her passion for this art has become a generational legacy, and one I hope to pass on in her memory some day. Grammy also passed along her red hair to me… and a feisty streak to match. 

Grammy, I am so thankful for the imprint you have left in my life. I am a better person because of your love. You will be missed dearly, but there is joy in knowing you are at peace and with our Lord. Love you, Grammy. xoxo

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would you be my valentine?

Happy Valentine’s Day! To spread a little love around I thought I’d share a yummy chocolaty recipe with you and some classic retro valentines that were just to good to leave in the past… Hope you enjoy them!

And because no Valentine’s Day seems complete without a little chocolate, I made up a batch of decadent double chocolate cupcakes to share with friends. These cupcakes look so sweet when they are finished, and I promise they are really not that difficult to do. If you’d like to make up a little batch of your own you can find the recipe here. (yes, of course, it’s from Martha… queen of the cupcake!)

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