Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Reincarnationist

The Reincarnationist (Reincarnationist, #1)The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sum it up in a sentence (or two): Josh is pretty sure he used to be Julius, but wants proof. He goes looking for it in Rome and finds a lot of trouble.

First thoughts: Right away, I was super intrigued with this book. The Rome setting definitely interested me (and the Roman history was fun to revisit), but the characters and concept showed lots of promise too. I mean, it's reincarnation, how can it not be interesting?

A tale of two...or three stories: So at first it was just Josh Ryder in present day NY/Rome and Julius in ancient Rome. Then a few more characters get introduced and we've got Joshua as Percy in a New York of the past, plus Rachel, Alex, and Harrison in present New York. Things get a little confusing.

Favorite quote: "It's a gift to see into the depths of grief, because only when you realize that someone can be in that much pain and still function, speak civilly, shake your hand and tell you how nice it is to meet you, do you understand why you can't ever give in or give up. There's always another chance, another day. That's the miracle of the human spirit." -Josh's dad, p 374

Final thoughts: So...this just kinda ended. I guess it's part of a series, but I'd like my stories to have a conclusion (even a cliffhanger), not just end. That's a bummer. Points for Rome/Roman history, interesting concept, and characters I want to care about, but the follow through isn't there.

View all my reviews

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Night Links 16

Since I haven't shared my current bookmarks in a while (my Friday nights have been activity-packed these past few weeks (including tonight), which is strange for me, but also a nice change), and since this week has been physically, mentally, and emotionally draining (and next week's forecast looks like more of the same)...some links to things that have fed me recently.

I also love the between times - "I’ve found my senses are most finely tuned when I’m forced to let things be — and in times of transition, there’s so much to be lost (or missed) in the rush to get to whatever’s next."

If I wasn't pretty sure that the theme of my 2015 is "authentic," I'd make it "minimal" - less is more.

How will I pay the bills? Again, less is more.

About doing what you love...(and not having a capital P "Passion," but rather lots of curiosity about the world). (Via)

Another beautiful collection of vignettes by Shoko (she clearly knows what's up): "for the most part, the discombobulation has been a thrill."

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Project: Process

I've been working on this collage for most of the winter, so it makes sense that I finally finished it on a snowy spring day. I knew I wanted something blue, but the meditative/openness aspects came much later, when I sensed a trend in what I was cutting out of magazines. It's pretty cool how these patterns appear over time, and even cooler when I step back far enough to notice them.
This didn't turn out exactly like my final pre-Mod Podge layout (last one below), but such is the collage process. Things shift as you go along, and once you start gluing, there's no stopping until that final scrap of paper. I'd say it's complete, but I think people never truly complete creative projects, they just stop working on them when the time is (feels) right.
Stage One: Throw It All On The Canvas
Stage Two: Give It A Shape
Stage Three: Commit To a Layout
As you can see, I'm in my blue period now, but a while back I was feeling the red:
The quote reads: "In a serener Bright/In a more golden light/I see/Each little doubt and fear,/Each little discord here/Removed." -Emily Dickinson
Don't mind the Christmas lights I still decorate with.
I like working with specific colors. Usually, no matter the layout, the composition looks good/neat. Besides color, I also like themes. For me, collages are therapeutic. They are just mindless enough so as to not overwhelm or stress me out, but not so mindless that I get bored and lose interest. I also like the idea of organized chaos.

Who are we kidding: at the end of the day, I just like reliving my childhood by cutting and pasting.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Poetry Marches On

I thought this month’s poem would come easy(easier) - March is full of poeticism and my routine has also had its share of poetic changes/ups and downs/shake ups. And yet, I’m learning (once again) that inspiration rarely strikes on its have to reach out, grab it, hold it tight, and wrestle with it. Then hope it sticks to the page (or computer screen).
I started a version of this poem last Thursday, the day before the official start of Spring. It felt good to say goodbye to winter, even if only the calendar version. Winter didn’t seem to want to leave, though. It clung to everything, even the air. Today is another day like that - where winter/the blues/blah-ness seems to cling. Things are gross and the week trudges on, ever so slowly. Here’s hoping everyone finds a little spring today, somewhere (mine’s in the tulips on the counter at work).
The Last Full Day of Winter

It’s dark
when I wake up
when I leave the house
when I get on the train, and even as it descends into the tunnel.
The sky only barely registers as navy when it emerges again.
The air slips past all my layers and seems to rush right into me
so that the cold seems to come from my own shivering core.
It’s only as I drive the kids to school that the sun makes any real appearance,
stretching out from behind thin clouds,
smudging the sky with pale yellow streaks.

“It’s still winter,” everything says.
“No use trying too hard.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Drop Biscuits

Today I want to share my new favorite recipe (because I'm craving carbs big time). These biscuits are called drop biscuits because that's how you get them on the baking sheet - drop them by the spoonful. There's no rolling out or cutting dough into perfect circles because these are no fuss mounds of pure gluten-full joy. I also have no idea where I got this recipe, so while I can't claim it as my own, I also can't give credit to anyone...though I'm sure most chefs/bakers have their own similar versions of this guy. It's quick, only takes one bowl and one pan, and pairs well with a hearty dinner or a savory breakfast.

Drop Biscuits (makes 12 medium-large biscuits)

2 c flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
5 tbsp cold butter
1 c cold milk (I used unsweetened plain almond milk & they still turned out great!)

Preheat oven to 400.
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Cut butter into mixture.
Slowly stir in milk and mix gently until dough comes together.
Drop onto baking sheet by spoonfuls, leaving space to expand.
Bake 12-15 minutes or until turning golden.

Enjoy hot out of the oven/as soon as possible! These are still good a few days later, but not as good once they've cooled. If you have leftovers, store in an airtight container. I'm thinking my next batch might need a few fun add-ins (rosemary, chives, bacon, cheese), but I have no complaints with this basic recipe!

Monday, March 23, 2015


Until Interstellar comes out on DVD, Jesus and I are getting our fill of apocalyptic space travel movies via the classics. Last week he convinced me to watch Armageddon, one of the few movies that makes him cry every time he watches.

I don't know if anyone else out there hasn't seen Armageddon, but if so, let me be the one to tell you it's well worth 151 minutes of your life to check it out. Not only is the cast full of stars (and stars before they were stars), but the story (which is unrealistic and yet completely relatable) is fun, fast-moving, and interesting to watch unfold.

The basic premise is that Earth is about to be destroyed by an asteroid, and the only hope of humanity's survival rests in the hands of a hodgepodge oil drilling team (led by Bruce Willis). There's also a love story (featuring Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler) and plenty of comedic relief (thanks to Steve Buscemi, Owen Wilson, and Michael Clarke Duncan). If none of this persuades you, there's always the joy of spotting all the goofs and impossibilities.

Watch the trailer here:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Pizza Bible

The Pizza Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Make Napoletano to New York Style, Deep Dish and Wood-fired, Thin Crust, Stuffed Crust, Cornmeal Crust, and MoreThe Pizza Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Make Napoletano to New York Style, Deep Dish and Wood-fired, Thin Crust, Stuffed Crust, Cornmeal Crust, and More by Tony Gemignani
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sum it up in a sentence (or two): 11-time World Pizza Champ Tony Gemignani shares recipes, hints, and tips for making the best pizzas of your life (plus some pretty great sauces, cocktails, and even cheese!).

First thoughts: I like Gemignani's authenticity and how he compromises for the sake of meeting amateur chefs where they're at without compromising his style. He comes right out and says "use these specific ingredients in this way with these tools, but in the end, do what you gotta do to experiment and learn how to make a really great pizza."

Favorite quote: "Pizza, the world's favorite fast food is, in fact, slow food." p8

Recipe I'm excited to try the most: I'd love to try my hand at a Mergherita from Naples, but the Cracker-Thin style from Chicago is the one I'd like to be an expert at.

A pizza for everyone: Gemignani breaks down the basics of almost every style of pizza one could imagine. He really knows his stuff. From NY slices to Chicago deep dish to Neapolitan and Roman classics, reading through the descriptions, ingredients, and steps of the recipes took me on a culinary journey and left me excited to get practicing in my own kitchen.

Pizza creativity: I love all the different/original/catchy names for the sauces, cocktails, sandwiches, and pizzas themselves!

Recommended for: chefs, eaters, pizzaiolos (pizzaioli?), foodies.

Final thoughts: Pizza making is intense! Gemignani's narration reads like any regular book with a plot and a creative pace - this isn't just a cookbook or a collection of recipes. Above being a great chef, Gemignani can write a cohesive story. I'm so glad I'll have this as a reference in the kitchen.

Editor's note: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews