Monday, November 30, 2009

Turn, Magic Wheel

Turn, Magic Wheel by Dawn Powell is the latest book that I'm reading with my "rogue book club", the little offshoot of my main book club. I finished it two days ago and am still trying to decide what I think about it.

It's the story of an author who uses a friend, the jilted wife of a Hemingway-like figure, as material for his latest novel. It definitely wasn't a book that really pulled me in or kept me reading it nonstop, so in that sense I can't say that I loved it. There were a few times when I thought "this is it, this is where it's going to pick up and get good", but then it would slow down and my interest waned again.

On the other hand, I really liked the way the author develops the two main characters and their feelings toward each other. I especially loved the way that, during the last few chapters, she sets them up as parallels of each other and shows how the way they approach their lives is more similar than it initially seems.

In the end, I think I liked more than I didn't like about this book, and found some parts to be really intriguing. I can't wait to see what the rest of the club (okay...the one other member) thinks!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vintage Find

I don't pretend to be great at thrifting or finding vintage clothes like some of the bloggers that I like to read, but I do finally have a vintage find to report on. (Disclaimer- I say "find" in the broadest sense of the word, since this involved no active searching on my part.)

Anyway, this find is a vintage Coach purse that my mom found when she was cleaning out her closet. It's a pretty classic shape and color, so it still looks appropriate. I normally don't go for long, cross-body bags that much, but I think this one has a similar look to some of the equestrian-inspired saddle bags that are trendy right now.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Yesterday my mom hosted Thanksgiving dinner for our relatives. As usual, she made the house look very festive:

Here's the turkey...I never have any involvement in its preparation....

...but I did make a bunch of side dishes:

Creamed Corn


Sausage and Apple Stuffing

Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows

The entire feast

Here's the "after" picture of the sweet potato pie that used the crust I baked last week.

I also tried one new dessert from a Paula Deen recipe: Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake. It was very rich, very sweet, and very good.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Things I like today, part deux

Last week I posted about some things I'd seen recently that I especially liked, including some pretty cloth-bound editions of classic novels. Well, I found another bunch of editions of classics with really unique and pretty cover art. These are all the Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions and I first saw them mentioned in the Vogue Editors Holiday Wish List. I spotted one in person at Borders this weekend, and that started me off on a treasure hunt around the fiction section to see how many others I could find.

Pride and Prejudice

Huck Finn

Moby Dick

The Scarlet Letter

and Wuthering Heights, front...

...and back. Those last two are my favorites. They make me think of Cathy with a dash of BlackApple style meets Heathcliff with a dash of Edward Cullen.

And on a related note, remember those adorable candles-wearing-ski-caps I mentioned? Update: I now have one that I got for my birthday! It looks so cute sitting on my dresser that I've come to think of it as an inanimate little pet of sorts. Plus, it makes my apartment smell like an Anthropologie store, which is a good thing in my book. (thanks again Leslie!)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Angel of Darkness

I just finished reading The Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr. It's the sequel to The Alienist, which I read over the summer and really enjoyed. The Angel of Darkness wasn't quite as good, but was still an interesting, fun to read mystery. All of the same characters from The Alienist are back in this book, but the author switches the narrator to a different character. I found myself wondering why he made that choice. Was it to challenge himself as a writer? To make the book a slightly less typical kind of sequel? It seemed to me the the story could have been told just as well from any of the characters' perspectives, including the original narrator from The Alienist. But that said, the new narrator didn't detract at all from my enjoyment of the story. Like the first book, my favorite part was still all of the historical descriptions of New York during that time.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving Preview: Perfect Pie Crust

I first made a pie crust from scratch a couple of years ago when someone at my work organized a pie contest. Since the rule was that everything had to be made from scratch, I took the plunge and learned how to make my own crust. The result that time looked just okay, but it tasted good enough to spoil me against using store-bought crusts.

I spent today making a crust that will be used for my dad's sweet potato pie. It has always tasted great even with the ready-made crust, but I like to think that the homemade variety puts it over the top. The crust I made today is my best one ever and came out picture perfect.

This is the "before" picture. By Thursday, it will be filled with yummy sweet potatoes and brown sugar crumb topping.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fall Craft Project

For the past couple of months I've been working on knitting an infinity scarf. The cool fall weather put me in the mood to pick up some knitting needles and since I'd been admiring infinity scarves for the past year or so, I decided to make one for myself. I didn't use any pattern. I just picked out some yarn that I liked and kept knitting and knitting and knitting until I had a very long scarf. I sewed the ends together and tada- an infinity scarf. I got a bit nervous about it halfway through- it seemed liked the yarn was going to be too think and bulky to really drape the way that an infinity scarf should. That seemed to work itself out though, and I'm actually pretty happy with the result. Now I'm all set to wear it once the weather gets just a touch cooler.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Just got back from a lovely birthday dinner at Amanda's in Hoboken. Here's the birthday "cake" they brought out for me. It was actually a birthday panna cotta with mint, blackberries, and pistachio creme anglaise. Luckily it didn't include any singing waiters.

Fresh, Seasonal Restaurant

My family recently discovered a new restaurant, Dish in Red Bank. We stumbled upon it by chance and thought it looked good so we decided to give it a try. Once we looked at the menu, I realized that it was focused on using seasonal, fresh ingredients, a little bit like the philosophy in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. A lot of the dishes on the menu included fall- appropriate items like squash, sweet potatoes, and pureed root vegetables.

This was the pumpkin ravioli- yum!

There's a roast chicken under there somewhere. It was free-range and tasted really fresh, like chicken is supposed to.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Bolter

I had been eagerly anticipating reading The Bolter ever since it was reviewed on The Daily Beast way back in the summer. It took forever for the library to even get the book in stock, and when it finally did I was a bit disappointed to find myself feeling like I had to slog my way through the book to get to the end.

Idina Sackville was a British aristocrat who lived during the early 20th century. Her life was full of scandal and intrigue. She married, divorced, and then remarried five husbands. Abandoning her two sons, she left England and spent most of her time living on a farm in Kenya. Imagine one of Fitzgerald's flappers going to live the life of a Hemingway character on safari and you'll start to get an idea of her. Idina's life was said to the the inspiration for the runaway mother character (a.k.a. "The Bolter") in Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate- both of which I really liked.

I think I had hoped that The Bolter would read more like one of those Mitford novels. A jacket blurb even promised that it would combine "history with the stay-up-until-3am-to-finish-it urgency of a best seller". That prediction didn't quite come true for me. Although the facts of Idina's life are interesting, the author (a descendant of Idina) pretty much just presents them in a straightforward, basic way. Her attempts to explain Idina's motivations seemed to only scratch the surface of her personality. I'm sure this makes it a true, accurate biography, but it also made it a somewhat sluggish read.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Things I like today

With the holidays approaching, my online window shopping has increased quite a bit. Here are some of my recent finds:

Cozy Candles

These candles in ceramic holders from Anthropologie are made to look like they're wearing snug winter ski caps.

Pretty Books

Also at Anthropologie are these pretty editions of classic British novels. There's The Picture of Dorian Grey, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights, plus others by Austen and Dickens.

Etsy Artist

And finally, I really like Etsy's Flapperdoodle shop. The artist creates prints, cards, and stationary that show her two flapper characters, Eloise and Ramona, doing all kinds of charming things, like dancing to their gramophone (top), reading The Great Gatsby (middle left), and posing as Audrey Hepburn! (bottom right). There's something about them that I think is just so sweet and adorable.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Recommendation of the Week

Classic Movie

I recently re-watched Arsenic and Old Lace, and realized that not only is it on my short list of favorite movies ever, but it's also a top contender for the prize of the funniest movie I've ever seen. Cary grant is funny and charming, and the plot twists are set of by amazingly witty lines- I discover more each time I watch it. And because it takes place on Halloween and filled with some hilariously creepy characters, it's a perfect movie for this time of year.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Election Day!

Ok, I just wanted an excuse to post this pretty picture I took as I left work tonight. If you look closely, you can see the Empire State Building is lit up in red, white, and blue for the election. Really loving having my iphone camera handy to capture scenes like this.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Little Easter in the Fall

A while ago I read and loved Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. Just recently I read and liked another of his novels, The Easter Parade.

It's kind of like Revolutionary Road meets The Best of Everything, only much more depressing. Not that Revolutionary Road was a happy book itself, but at least only one main character dies. In the Easter Parade, almost all of the main characters die, become alcoholics, or become alcoholics and then die. It explores what seems to be a recurring Yates theme of a conventional suburban life vs. a free-spirited urban life (spoiler alert: both can leave you miserable). I may be overemphasizing the depressing aspects a bit. It's definitely a good book and worth reading, just be prepared to be left feeling a little bleak at the end.


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