Saturday, October 31, 2009

Recommendation of the (Spooky) Week

Happy Halloween!!

I've been a bit lax with posting this week, so I thought I'd make a quick recommendation. It's nothing Halloween related, but it is on of my favorites among the blogs I've been reading lately: JenLovesKev. It has a great mix of fashion, food, crafts, design, etc.

And ulterior motive alert: JenLovesKev is having a weekend giveaway of one of her adorable flower-and-feather brooches. By linking to it here, I have a chance to win it. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wild Things

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that although I read Where the Wild Things Are when I was little, it's never been one of my all time favorite children's books (certainly not on the level of Blueberries for Sal or the Frances series).

All the same, I do want to see the new movie version of Where the Wild Things Are, and I just finished The Wild Things, Dave Eggers's novel based on a combination of the children's book and the new movie.

I thought Eggers believably captured the perspective of a mischievous child, both in Max's normal, everyday life and when he's on the island of the Wild Things. There's definitely a dark and, at times, eerie feeling that runs throughout the Wild Things portion of the book. Interestingly, and perhaps because The Wild Things was written after Eggers had co-written the film script, I thought that it really captures, and allows the reader to envision, how the movie will be. Now I'll just have to watch the movie for myself and see how they compare...

On another note, I also recently read Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Although post-apocalyptic, semi-fantasy, young-adult fiction isn't my most frequented genre, I've enjoyed both of the books in this series so far. They do a good enough job of filling the place of the Twilight series for a fun, quick, escapist read.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Finally finished my book club's latest pick, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

It's the story of how Kingsolver's family spent a year eating only locally grown, organic foods. They ate only fruits and vegetables that were in season in their region and grew most of what they needed in their own garden. It's simultaneously inspiring and daunting. In theory, their plan, and the reasons behind it, makes good sense. However, considering the fact that they live on a small farm and even raised their own poultry, their commitment to eating locally is likely more than most people can pull off, especially when first contemplating a change in eating habits. I can't help but think that baby steps are the way to go here. I probably won't totally change my culinary lifestyle, but I can try to do things like try to buy less processed foods, think about recipes that call for vegetables that are in season, and make the effort to look for more organic, free range eggs and hormone-free milk.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle includes recipes sprinkled throughout the book that sound really good and put me in the cooking mood. (I'm most anxious to try making the sweet potato quesadillas.) In the spirit of this, I created and tried a recipe of my own for Butternut Squash Pizza.

Inspired by the flavor combinations of a pasta dish in the Martha Stewart Everyday Foods cookbook, I used whole wheat pizza dough (store-bought, but still somewhat local as it came from a bakery in NY state), spread pureed butternut squash on in place of the sauce (frozen, yes, but still seasonally appropriate), and topped with Parmesan cheese, caramelized onions, rosemary, and a sprinkle of shredded mozzarella. The end result was quite tasty.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Good Book Design

This past weekend I bought The Wild Things by Dave Eggers, the novel that expands on Maurice Sendak's original book and is the basis for the new movie that looks really good.

Besides being something that I want to read, the main reason why I bought this instead of checking the library is because it's such an interesting looking book (this picture really doesn't do it justice). All of the books that McSweeney's publishes always have such cool designs that I usually buy the hardcovers, something I rarely do.

You Shall Know Our Velocity is more subdued in terms of its design, but interesting because the story literally starts at the top of the front cover.

What is the What has a great cover too.

I love that none of these have jackets. That, plus the unusual designs, make me feel a tiny bit like how it must have felt back in the days of Dickens and Austen when people built libraries of first editions of novels.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Recommendation of the Week

Inspector Lewis

On Sunday nights from 9-10:30, PBS has been showing the BBC import Inspector Lewis as part of its Masterpiece Theater series. Set in Oxford, England, it's a procedural crime drama with a literary twist. Inspector Lewis is an older, seasoned, traditional detective; his sidekick is a younger sergeant who studied at Cambridge before joining the police force-a fact that comes in handy for cases that usually have some kind of academic twist involving students and professors at Oxford. There's something about the combination of the mystery, the banter between the two investigators, the literary references, and the beautiful shots of the Oxford campus that make this a great Sunday winding-down time show for me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

An Arsonist's Guide..

I've looked at An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England countless times at the bookstore, thought about reading it, and then put it down. Now that I've finally read it, I can say that I was smart in passing it up all of those times.

Both the title and the synopsis (the narrator goes to jail for accidentally burning down the Emily Dickinson house; once he's out, more writers' houses mysteriously start burning) made this book seem like it would be quirky and interesting. Instead it was tedious, annoying, and depressing. I disliked practically every character in the book. Eventually, when I got to the point of just reading it to get it over with, I still harbored some hope that the ending would involve some great, Fight Club-esque twist that would make me see the book in a whole new light and love it, but that never happened- the ending was nothing that I couldn't have predicted from the preceding story. Blah all around.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Coco Avant Chanel

Saw Coco Avant Chanel starring Audrey Tatou last night. Besides being an interesting biopic and a gorgeous film to look at, this movie made me obsessed with the simple yet chic clothes that Chanel wore, particularly this striped, boatneck t-shirt.

In another scene in the movie, she wore a slightly oversized, black and white version cinched with a black ribbon around the waist. I've been searching for a version I can get to recreate the look.

This one from Anthropologie could be a good approximation, although some of the online reviews complained about the saggy pocket.

Urban Outfitters has a shorter sleeve version that also comes in navy that might work too.

Both of these may be worth some investigating.


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