Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The List: January 2014

As 2014 was being rung in and new year wishes were zig-zagging across the globe, I got an e-mail from a very dear friend; she wished me a year "where not too many extraordinary things happen but the usual everyday things bring a lot of joy and comfort". Isn't that a lovely sentiment?

Gratifyingly, January was just that kind of month for me, where life chugged along pleasantly. After the busy social calendar of December, I found time to spend cozy evenings with a pile of books. 

Reading

I finally got my hands on a cookbook that I have wanted to read and cook from since it came out in 2006- Cooking with Pedatha by Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain, traditional vegetarian Andhra cuisine. A few months ago when I finally got around to looking for this cookbook in our public library system, it was not in their collection. I was about to say "oh well" and click away when I realized that I could request for the book to be added to the library's collection. And sure enough, they had a form on their website where I could fill in some details and send in a request in a matter of minutes. And they bought a copy and reserved it for me! I've said it before and I will say it again: public libraries are awesome. From now on, I'll be happily requesting books that I don't find in the library catalog. 

January was a month of graphic memoirsLike every other kid I knew, I grew up on a steady diet of comic books- Archie and his teen drama, Marvel comics with the superheroes, and homegrown ones with mythological stories like Amar Chitra Katha. But comics, poor things, were always rather looked down upon. You resorted to hiding comics inside textbooks while reading them to dodge the disapproving looks of grown-ups. They were the snack food of the reading world, quick and easy to consume; nothing but empty calories. So I put down comics in middle school and never picked one up again until last year. That's when a couple of brilliant graphic novels spurred my interest again and reminded me that there can be tremendous depth to stories told with line drawings and few words.

This month I read two incredible graphic memoirs.
Image: Goodreads



Relish by Lucy Knisley is a story of childhood and young adulthood told through memories of food, by someone who has been a "foodie" from her toddler years. A funny, warm and joyful memoir that will make you very hungry. I promise you won't regret reading this one.







Image: Goodreads

Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole J. Georges is also a graphic memoir but with the much more difficult subject matter of a dysfunctional family and unstable childhood, but written/drawn with a lot of heart. And I adored the multitude of dogs featured in nearly every panel.

The other rollicking good read this month was a work of non-fiction, Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer. The lives of parasites are facts stranger than fiction and this book nearly left me breathless.

Finally, I read another non-fiction work in the true crime genre that was a difficult but gripping and very thought-provoking read, People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry.

Making




Fabric covered computer mouse-pads using this tutorial from Gen X Quilters. You really can sew a sheet of cork- amazing.









Mittens for Lila. These are sturdy enough to survive being dragged through the playground.





Supporting a campaign to empower women in India by helping them take charge of their own safety. While I live my pleasant and uneventful life, I do know that there are millions of women who face violence and injustice as part of their everyday life. A reader named Gayatri reached out to me and told me about a campaign she's working with- to provide tools and self-defense classes to women in India. Gayatri describes the campaign on her blog and here is the link to the fundraiser. Please take a minute and read about this.

So what have you been eating, reading, making, watching this January? 

44 comments:

  1. I had gall bladder removal surgery this month so the first half of the month was spent freezing meals and the 2nd half is spent eating bland and watching the fat intake. :)
    very happy to hear about the Sayfty campaign. will support it.

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    1. Oh dear- I wish you a quick and complete recovery!

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  2. Will look for these books,..:) those mittens look cute

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  3. Nupur, I loved the way you've described comics perceived as 'the snack food of the reading world' :-) I have enjoyed 'Relish' and shall look up the other one. I recently came across an entire cookbook with graphically illustrated recipes. It was like a comic recipe book. I am unable to recall its name at the moment.

    I have requested several books for purchase from my public library and every single time I feel so grateful, so fortunate and over the top excited. This privilege is beyond my sweetest dreams. :-)

    I am making and eating more soups. It's partially due to the weather and partially because I got a stunning new soup pot in october, since then the pot calls out to me and tempts me to make soup after soup. I am currently enjoying a vegetarian version of Moroccan soup called Harira, it's delicious! I am reading posts on the Kitchn and watching an old Ztv serial 'Rishtey' on youtube.

    Those little mittens look so adorable! I will check out the campaign, thanks for mentioning it.

    - Priti

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    1. Priti- I love the graphic/comic recipe books! Just got one to review in fact, and will cook from it soon. How funny that you mentioned Hariri, I tasted it for the first time this past Sunday when a friend made it for a Moroccan themed meal that she hosted. And she had a really cute soup pot too!

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  4. Love your Reading logs Nupur. I was showing a CNN article for this year's award winners in children books category to my 9 year old and guess what? Relish is one of them. Will surely check that out at the library. I totally agree with you about the public library system.
    I'm reading Sycamore Row by John Grisham. It's got the same characters from his earlier novel 'A time to Kill'. Although I didn't read 'A time to Kill', I watched the movie during my college days...and I really loved it. Sycamore Row is interesting so far...Grisham has great narration skills!

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    1. Relish has a few scenes that a 9 year old may be too young for (not that I am an expert on the emotional lives of 9 year olds) but it is a most enjoyable book for sure.

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  5. Nupur, thank you for sharing Sayfty's campaign. Ladies, please help by spreading a word about the campaign& contributing in whatever way you can. Thanks!

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    1. You're welcome- I was happy to spread the word.

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  6. Very cute mittens, and mouse pad, I wish I will be able to learn it sometime:) You inspire everytime Nupur, thanks!
    I will support the campaign too.
    I am finally able to start my blog by joining a Baking online group.

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    1. Fun! I hope you enjoy your baking adventures.

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  7. Happy New Year, Nupur! I'm coming to your blog (and to blogging) after a gap and it's lovely to read your back posts and see what you've been doing.
    My library doesn't have Relish, so I'm going to request they add it to their collection ;)

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    1. Happy New Year to you too and I've missed your posts, Niranjana. Your fellow library patrons will thank you for requesting Relish :)

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  8. I love love love RELISH. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I'm reading French Milk soon.

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    1. Lu- it was thanks to you and November Non-Fiction that I got my hands on many wonderful books, including Relish!

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  9. Shubha from SydneyJanuary 28, 2014 6:11 PM

    Hi Nupur - Happy New Year to you and yours. I have just returned home after 5 weeks in Pune. What a variety of foods I ate! From ukdiche modak to gool poli, from aloo vadi to batata wada.....read the Indian papers leisurely with my cups of tea and coffee, made contact with family and friends and watched plays and movies.....brought back puran polis and gool polis that are now in the freezer, books, CDs, DVDs. Wishing you continued success with the blog in 2014. Shubha

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    1. Happy New Year to you too, dear Shubha and your Pune trip sounds fantastic!

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  10. Thank you for the reminder about graphic novels - I feel a bit the same about you - love the description of them as reading snack food - and I feel a bit shamefaced because a friend of mine has written a few and I haven't read them despite good intentions - part of my problem is that they are huge and can't be read while curled around them but the books you mention sound really interesting. My favourite book that I read recently is Burial Rites by Hannah Kent - an amazing story with amazing insight into icelandic history and human nature.

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    1. Johanna- both of these graphic memoirs were not large tomes- I read each one in a sitting or two. I will look for Burial Rites!

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  11. Hi Nupur,

    Love your blog. Do you read these books off a kindle or are they real books from a library. Wondering where you source your books. Love your book ideas and reviews. I am a reader too but haven't in a while since the babies came.

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    1. Hi Reena- All these books are real (that is, paper) books from my local public library.

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  12. I checked out relish on amazon and peeped inside the book and it looks so yummy! delicious book, it is :D I will see if I can get my hands on a copy somewhere.
    I am currently reading "raising Happiness"..The first parenting book I purchased recently! I really loved the title of the book and so far am quite liking it. It does seem validate whatever "philosophy" I have and try to implement regarding parenting.
    January just breezed by! It was spent just cozying at home.. I will check out the support campaign. I support and volunteer at a NGO that deals with domestic abuse here in bay area. It does make you feel grateful for the everyday things you tend to take for granted. However, it also saddens me that sometimes we need to see others' sufferings in order to realize how fortunate we are in so many ways.

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    1. Neha- That's wonderful that you're able to volunteer! Truly we all need to do more of that, for ourselves more than for others. And Relish is indeed a delicious book- check your library, they might have a copy.

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  13. Great post, Nupur! Love the sentiment of your friend. The books all look so interesting. (I am a huge fan of American public libraries too- they are very underappreciated in my opinion.) I adore the mousepads and the gloves. As usual, I admire your talent and energy. And thanks for bringing Gayatri's campaign to our attention. It's really commendable.
    January's been a hectic month for us. I did read the 8 cousins- very enjoyable! I was fascinated by the story of Catherine the Great - learned a lot of history (and geography) and listened to a couple of audiobooks-The End of the Affair (read by Colin Firth- he could read a phone book and make it interesting) and Beautiful Ruins which is very well-read also. Now I'm listening to The Testament of Mary read by Meryl Streep....Have a fabulous February! I am making your soup this weekend. Thanks in advance! R

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    1. I bet Jan was hectic with the travel and all- hope you enjoyed it. Hope you enjoy the soup!!

      I should really find a good book to listen to. Can you believe I've never tried an audio book ever.

      Libraries are such wonderful resources- ours has local musicians performing, puppet shows and story time in addition to good old books.

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    2. Did you love Harry Potter? If you did, those audiobooks (all libraries should have them) are great for a dip into the audiobook world. Jim Dale is wonderful and since you know the story, you won't have to concentrate as hard as you quilt, drive, do your chores etc....(There are many others. Make sure you get a decent narrator!) They are good (with headphones) for those nights too when you can't fall asleep, and if you turned on the lights to read, you'd disturb others. I also much prefer visual reading but with narration, I can multi-task. I feel it's partly an acquired skill for some, and the more I listen, the better I am able to follow along. Give it a try. maybe for starters, have both written material and audio, so if you miss something, you can go back and read it.

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  14. Love such simple joy and comfort days :) Cooking with Pedatha is a great book and those mittens are super cute. Vedika is at that stage where she loves mittens of any kind, the other day she was crying because we won't let her eat her dinner with mittens on!

    I really like the format of this list post of yours. I am curious if you would be okay if I were to post similar list posts on my blog? That's probably what I need to get my blog out of it's inertia mode :) No worries either way - just thought will ask. These posts have been an inspiration for me to spend my time doing meaningful and creative things and would love to spread the joy around.

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    1. PJ- please please DO post a similar list of your own. It is the perfect way to capture all those little things that each can't be posted on their own. And by the way I got the idea from another blog! So I'm waiting to read your list :)

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  15. Have you read the other "Relish" - by Dr Oz's daughter? I wondered if it's any good. It's about entertaining, has recipes etc. R

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    1. R- I've seen Daphne Oz on The Chew (daytime TV) a few times, and harsh as it sounds, I thought she was so predictable and generic, I don't think I will be seeking out her book.

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  16. January is over! Wow! It's been a good so far.
    I love Cooking with Pedatha, I have a few recipes on the blog. We love Andhra food and it is a pleasure to cook Pedathas recipes.
    I have booked Relish at my library, thank you, Nupur. I love getting recommendations.
    I am reading ( and hoping to try recipes from) Cooking super natural everyday by Heidi Swanson and a couple of cake books. In fact it looks like I have been reading only cook books!
    Watching ( I am almost ashamed to admit) The secret life of the American teenager. Pshw! Dokyachi vaat! Seriously, are these teens such idiots?! gave it up.
    I want to watch JaiHo! I am a Salman Khan fan :)
    Any thing interesting on Netflix, you recommend?

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    1. I did see several Pedatha recipes on your blog!! The recipes are indeed wonderful. I have Cooking Super Natural Everyday too! Haven't cooked much from it, so I'd love to know if you find a recipe you love.
      Hmm- Netflix- I've been watching my favorite genre of murder mysteries- Sherlock (new season) and Midsomer Murders. Did you see OMG (Hindi movie)? Saw it a few months ago- it has Paresh Rawal- love him, overall the movie was time pass.

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  17. Mitts look so cute!!! Finally I got my reading on track! Marathi Diwali ank reading going on full swing!!!

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    1. Awesome! I remember those stacks of Diwali anka. So what have you been knitting Mints?

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  18. Nupur,I started reading Far from the tree by Andrew Soloman,a different perspective parenting book and did make me grounded on the fact is we should embrace diversity.Also looked through Jamie Olivers "Cook" and Jamie at home .found a great squash recipe!

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    1. Far from the Tree sounds interesting! I like Jamie Oliver. Thanks for sharing, Kangna.

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  19. Hi Nupur - am a regular visitor to your blog and love all the awesome tid bits of information and book recommendations. I thought I must do my fair bit of sharing -I recently read "Tell it to the Trees" by Anita Rau Badami - creepy at times but definitely an attention grabber and very thought provoking. A book I thoroughly enjoyed was - "The guernsey literary and potato peel pie society" - dont be put off by the title its definitely a worth your time. Currently watching the TV show "Suits" on netflix as a bonding experience with my 14 year old and loving it. Let's hope Winter comes to an end soon while we are busy making the most of it !

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    1. Tell it to the Trees sounds very interesting, Roshni! I did read Guernsey a few years ago and loved it. In the same vein ( a book composed of letters back and forth), I loved 88 Charing Cross Road. I'll have to check out Suits on Netflix- I'm looking for a new series to watch.

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    2. thanks for that Nupur! I will definitely add it to my list.

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  20. Lovely mitts...and I have already requested a copy of Relish through my library. Also, do add ur fav picks of toddler books. It will be so much of a help. Sometimes I feel I just read 10 lil monkeys over and over again from diff authors.

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    1. Here are some of our favorites:
      https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/10503122-nupur?order=d&shelf=lila-s-favorites-age-0-2

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  21. Fingerless mitts, a small scarf and a toddler sweater ;) all underway!!!

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  22. Hi Nupur,

    I have been reading your blog for years and find it fascinating, especially your recipes and book reviews. My favorite recipes were your Kulfi and Pav bhaji, yum! I just read a couple of books by Amit Majmudar and loved both, was wondering if you have read them: Abundance and Partition. Keep up your fabulous work and congratulations on the ninth birthday of One Hot Stove!!!

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