Monday, August 04, 2014

The List: July 2014

July started on a high note with a week-long vacation and well, time seems to speed up in summer because here we are in August already.

Cooking & Baking


A big bowl of spinach dip got made two or three times this month for different gatherings. This is the recipe, and there's not much fuss involved: the spinach is the frozen kind, there's no cooking needed and the chipotle can be swapped out for something else like taco spice or hot sauce if needed. Served with veggie sticks or tortilla chips, this dip is a crowd pleaser; it makes a lot too.

We got together with friends to watch the World Cup and I made magic cake for dessert using this recipe. Magic cake gets its name from one cake batter that magically separates in the oven into a dense lower layer and a custard like upper layer. We loved it (so much that I forgot to take a picture) and if flans and custards are your thing, you'll probably love it too.

Reading several books, mostly from the kid lit and teen lit genre. These are all good and quick reads.

Image: Goodreads

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. Eleven year old Margaret moves from New York City to a New Jersey suburb and meets a whole new group of friends. The book tells a sweet and genuine story of a girl grappling with lots of changes in her life, in her body and in trying to figure out the role of religion in her life. Blume published this book in 1970 and the subject matter was considered very bold and frank for its time- it still remains a rather controversial book. But it made me nostalgic for my own set of girlfriends from middle and high school!





Image: Goodreads

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie with illustrations by Ellen Forney (she of the graphic memoir Marbles). This is the dark and funny coming of age story of a Native American teen. Junior has survived childhood illness to become a bright budding cartoonist. He lives on an Indian reservation, plagued by poverty, despair and alcoholism, and rather bravely leaves the local school to start attending the all-white high school in the next town. “I used to think the world was broken down by tribes,' I said. 'By Black and White. By Indian and White. But I know this isn't true. The world is only broken into two tribes: the people who are assholes and the people who are not.” 



Image: Goodreads


The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes. This is a simple, powerful and rather heartbreaking story. Wanda wears the same faded blue dress to school but claims to have a hundred dresses at home; the other girls at school tease her mercilessly about it. Then Wanda unwittingly teaches them a lesson about friendship and about doing the right thing.







Image: Goodreads



The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce #6) by Alan Bradley. I continued my indifferent reading of this series. Of all the books, this one has the weakest mystery but is full of emotional ups and downs as Flavia grapples with the return of her mother, the mother who went missing when she was just an infant.







Image: Goodreads

Among Lila's favorite books this month are Bear Wants More and Bear's New Friend, both by Karma Wilson with adorable illustrations by Jane Chapman. For the first time, Lila is enjoying books that are several pages long with a definite story line. The stories are written in rhyming, sing song fashion and fun to read.







We went to a gently-used book sale and found over a dozen classics for Lila. The one she's immediately in love with is Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney, about a Llama's first day at nursery school. This is such a darling book and you can't help feeling a pang of empathy for the dear little llama struggling with separation anxiety. Don't worry, it all works out in the end.


Lila's had a windfall of books this month. Just yesterday, a dear friend sent Lila a book gift that she bought in India- Mala's Silver Anklets by Annie Besant, from Tulika Publishers. Mala likes to sneak up and scare her grandma, her little brother and even the mailman. Until she gets silver anklets and that bells the cat, so to speak. A delightful story with adorable illustrations by Nancy Raj.



Watching the second season of Orange is the new Black.

And I took a break from my usual diet of murder mysteries (Midsomer Murders, Poirot etc.) and watched a very interesting documentary called Particle Fever. It chronicles the thrilling search for the Higgs Boson particle in the Large Hadron Collider. I watch murder mysteries as a mild form of escapism, to spend an hour in some quaint English village. But truthfully, the documentary about particle physics and the quest to understand the structure of the universe was the ultimate escape as I looked around my living room and pondered- what does all this mean, anyway?

What have you been eating, reading, watching this July? 

I have some unexpected travel coming up so posting will be sporadic over the next few 2 months. I may even be unable to post altogether but will be back soon enough. Enjoy the rest of your summer and the start of the school year!

Lila likes to put a purse around Duncan's neck and
declare that she's taking him shopping

26 comments:

  1. and btw .. have a nice journey .. you all will be missed :(

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  2. Magic cake sounds fascinating and I feel like I have read about it before but, can't remember where.
    It warms my heart that we have both Bear wants more and Mala's silver anklets.
    When my mom was going to visit us a couple of years back, I had ordered books from Tulika online and had them shipped to her. But, I think they have now opened a US store online too. We have a lot of favorites from Tulika.

    -Anu

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    1. Magic cake was all over Pinterest, Anu. After seeing it dozens of times, I said, what the heck and tried the recipe ;)
      As for the books, it is rather fun to go beyond the board books and read little stories.

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  3. duncan on his way to shopping is beyond adorable, with that purse! Are you guys going to india? have fun with the travels :)
    this is my list:
    eating: Am on a salad kick lately. made shredded kale salad, various lettuce salads, tomato salad..
    Reading: I finished reading "raising happiness" last month. Really really loved it. The only parenting book I have read till now, but I really loved it and it resonated with whatever ideas I have about parenting. I am also just finishing up "Wild". I liked it quite a lot. Its about a woman who hikes the PCT to get over the emotional battles she is facing.
    watching:
    We are currently on a Poirot spree..watching one episode each day during dinner from amazon prime.

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    1. Neha- Duncan is so sweet, he calmly puts up with anything Lila decides to do. Your salads sound good! I read Wild a couple of years ago and found it very engrossing. I'll look for Raising Happiness!

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  4. Hi Nupur, I printed out both your recipes. They look good and EASY! Duncan is darling and Lila is a hoot. :-) Give her a tight hug from me.

    The books all look good as well.

    I listened to the audiobook for The Goldfinch on vacation. (I wish I hadn't. It was depressing material; poorly edited- long and rambling. The end was melodramatic and a bit soppy. I didn't feel it was Pulitzer-worthy.) I also just read The Westing Game- a nice quick read, Open, and Orfeo by Richard Powers. Have been listening to Harry Potter (again!) with the kids on audio. The good thing is it pulls in (the attention of) all ages - from Dad to small children.

    After Sherlock, have to find something new to watch. :-)

    R

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    1. R- It is really fun to see Lila and Dunkie together. Yesterday she was lecturing him that he licked her and "you hurt some of my feelings".

      I have a few series short-listed to watch, Top of The Lake, Orphan Black, etc. but am still stuck on Frasier and mysteries, don't want to commit to a whole new series ;)

      Westing Game sounds like fun, I'll put it on my list- thanks!

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  5. wonderful post as usual. Struck the chord with"as I looked around my living room and pondered- what does all this mean, anyway? i was watching"how the iniverse works" on netflix and had the same feeling and it relaxes you to think we are not even a particle in this big universe and so our problems are even smaller:) we will miss you for a while:(
    richa

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    1. Richa- Thanks! So true, we're such a minor part of this universe(s) and it is incredible that our brains can even ponder this.

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  6. I think my first comment dint go through, just the second one came one.. trying to recollect what I had written again :P

    Duncan and Lila going for shopping with that cute purse is cuteness overloaded..and I loved the magic cake recipe esp the snap too.. I think I had seen it on Pinterest too .. recipes seems simple may give it a try ..And let the children books keep on coming , I always tend to read the reviews and buy something or other after reading here.. And also whenever I’m out of any sitcoms to watch I check out you List series or comments and take a call what to watch next :D

    From our end, we are enjoying the Pune monsoon, son is learning to talk and keeps on repeating words he learnt, so listening to “Moothha Pauuss” full day, damn adorable !
    Preparing fried snacks, just to honor the rains, latest love is bhutte ke pakode (corn fritters), they are small and crunchy good during this season.

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    1. Kanchan- thanks for the lovely note! How are the monsoons this year, your toddler sounds adorable. Kids probably can't go out much in the monsoons. Bhutta pakoda- mmm.

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  7. Hi Nupur,

    I will have to see Particle Fever. One thing I have realised, that PBS stations are enough to satiate my TV craving. So I have watching all the PBS series (UK TV series), borrowed from the library. Recently I watched 'North and South' (by Elizabeth Gaskell). It was so wonderful and ironic that I took up to reading the novel. I think the herione, Margaret Hale, is far more deeper in character and stronger than my favorite, Elizabeth Bennet (of Pride and Prejudice).

    This is the second novel I am reading by Elizabeth Gaskell (Lady Ludlow and other stories being the first, I enjoy her writing more than Jane Austen.
    You should read her too.

    Sapna

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    1. Sapna- currently, we don't have cable TV or an antenna and PBS is the only thing I am missing. The rest of TV is such bakwaas anyway. But PBS has some shows online, on Netflix and on their own Roku channel. I'll definitely look for Gaskell- thanks!

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  8. I loved "The Hundred Dresses" when I was in grade school and later when I read it to my son. It's a great way to start a conversation about many things ... other people's feelings ... understanding that we often don't know "the whole story" of someone's life. Very good.
    This summer I read "My Foreign Cities" by Elizabeth Scarboro. Very moving, honest, and life affirming. Here's a quote from the Chautauqua Prize press release: "A portrait of a young couple approaching mortality with reckless abandon, “My Foreign Cities” is Scarboro’s memoir of her life with her first husband Stephen, whose cystic fibrosis would be present in the background throughout their time together — and then ever more insistently in the foreground. Chautauqua Prize readers called the book “A deeply moving, incredibly honest story of embracing life while confronting certain death,” and described Scarboro’s prose as “poetic.” - See more at: http://www.ciweb.org/press-releases/265-my-foreign-cities-by-elizabeth-scarboro-wins-2014-chautauqua-prize#sthash.nj9oBjtp.dpuf

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    1. Hundred dresses is really a wonderful book for being so simple. I'll have to keep it in mind for when my daughter is older. And I'll definitely look for My Foreign Cities- it sounds like a wonderful read.

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  9. Adorable! Duncan all set to go for shopping with Little Lila's purse hanging around his neck!
    Love&blessings to Lila! Have a nice & enjoyable shopping day!

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  10. I love these updates! :) I read The Hundred Dresses and read it again as an adult and it's really very powerful for such a short book. The books you've been reading sound just perfect for summer! As for me...

    Eating - I've just started a job where I am working from home which opens up so many possibilities for healthy lunches!!! I am very excited about it. Last week, I got very creative with dinner leftovers and I'm looking forward to doing that every day. Michael also made killer quesadillas today with leftover chicken.
    Reading - I've been reading the Bloodlines series, which is a spinoff of the Vampire Academy series. My sister kept telling me to read Vampire Academy and I kept resisting because it sounded so dumb and the move looked so so bad, but I actually got hooked and attached to the characters. So here I am eight books later...
    Watching - Season 4 of the Killing. This show is so dark, but so good. And once again, I'm totally attached to the characters.

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    1. Working from home- ah, the joy- good luck with your new job! Quesadillas are the perfect way to use leftovers and bits and bobs from the fridge. You can never go wrong. I'm so not into vampire stuff- ahem, yet. But can relate to how characters can suck you in.

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  11. Oh, Nupur, you had me at magic cake. I must make it!
    Judy Blume was my favorite YA author. I must have read all of her books a dozens times each.
    And that photo of Duncan -- too funny!
    AL

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    1. I'll have to look for Blume's other books! She's funny and authentic.

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    2. Oh you should read the 'Fudge' series- you'll like it!!

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  12. What a nice read your post made Nupur ! Magic cake sound magical . Got to try it ! Enjoy your holiday break .

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  13. Hi Nupur,

    Looks like you're reading ahead for Lila -- Judy Blume served me well when I was at that "tween" age, and my daughter later. It was a blast from the past to see that title :) Safe travels and all the best as always!

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  14. Magic cake sounds delish, but its cousin impossible pie sounds even better. Like something you'd eat for breakfast after falling down the rabbit hole...

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