Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Around the Web

Super cute reusable "paper" towels. So many great prints to choose from!

Hilarious ballons at InflatedDeflated Etsy. Which ones would you buy?

Really great DIY Super Long Taper Candles from Oh Happy Day blog.

You know about PostSecret right? So good.

This is where we purchased my engagement ring. I still love it so much.

A blog I respect, and a recent post which inspires me on my current adventure.

Book Club - June. The End of an Era (for me)

Host: Teresa Matazzoni
Date: June 6th, Wednesday
Book: The Kitchen by Banana Yamamoto
Food Theme: Japanese inspired cuisine

Yay for Banana! No, not the fruit, the author of The Kitchen! I really, truly enjoyed this short book of two stories. I felt very in touch with both leading characters from the get-go, and had a sense of the pace and place of their lives and struggles in Japan. Both tales are bittersweet in a lovely way, perfectly rounded out in true short-story form. Four stars out of four stars from me, and Book Clubbers? I think you would agree? Your silence will affirm my assumption. :-)

Another wonderful meal, hosted at the lovely home of Teresa Matazzoni (and Ron Parodi). The food was one of our best spreads yet: Jessie made okayu (aka soupy rice) with tasty veggie toppings, Teresa made Japanese-style braised tofu, Sarah and I collaborated on an order of sushi from Geta in Oakland, Anna . . . oh Anna, what did you bring? I'm drawing a complete blank! And Kimmy came through with desserts galore, tiny speciality crack cakes of all colors and flavors. Once again, Book Club surprised me by celebrating my Birthday (May 21).  This group of women . . . I'm telling you. No other Book Club will ever compare.  

As the night drew closed I said my goodbye's to Tree and Ron as they would be unable to attend our wedding in July. They had to suffer a trip to Africa to visit with one of Tree's dear friends. Poor, poor, Tree and Ron . . . Africa or Denver? Maybe someday they'll get to visit wild Denver. (Hey, I did see a snake and some deer the other day . . . just sayin').

Saying goodbye was surreal, it never feels like a goodbye when it's happening. One grows so accustomed to welcoming and parting with friends throughout the years, especially when you live in the same town. A hug at the door feels like any other night, any other evening drawing to a close, but instead you won't hug them hello again for a long time.  

Thanks to my Book Club, this summer I've already devoured many books, and still have a lengthly cue of books in my Kindle. Here's what I've been up to since I was last with you at BC:

Reading Now
  • The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
  • Masie Dobbs: An Incomplete Revenge
Finished Reading
  • The Fault In Our Stars by Siobhan Fallon
  • 50 Shades of Grey by EL James (God help me I did read this crappy book!)
  • Some Assembly Required By Anne and Sam Lamott (Read)
In Cue
  • Masie Dobbs: Among the Mad
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand 
  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  • Shadow of Night: A Novel by Deborah Harkness (2nd in series)

From January 2009 until June 2012 I've had the honor, pleasure and pure delight to participate in a ritualistic gathering of friendship, shared sorrows, shared joys, struggles, marriages, pregnancies, births, home buying, new jobs, new degrees, new adventures, canoe trips, BBQ's, and of course books. I cannot believe how effortless, how easy, and how heart-warmingly wonderful it has been to be a part of this circle of women. You ladies are my true heros, my inspiration, my support, and and my literary guides. I miss you already, and look forward to seeing how our Book Club evolves as I transition to England and Sarah transitions to the east coast. I hope and wish for a continued Skype version of this club, as we have carried one another through so much these many years, and I can't imagine the years to come without you.

Thank you Anna, Jessie, Kim, Sarah and Teresa. 
I hope the next book club we co-create is as wonderful as this one has been.
I look forward to our sequel.  xoxo

Book Club - May

Host: Anna Stuppi via La Furia Chalaca Restaurant, Downtown Oakland
Date: May 15, Tuesday
Book: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Theme: South American Cuisine

For this Book Club we decided to eat out at a local Peruvian restaurant. Teresa wasn't able to join us for this tasty event (poor thing), but we had her with us in spirit. At the time I had not finished the book but went on to complete it afterwards. I enjoyed this book a bit more than Patchett's other book Bel Canto, but not as much as Truth and Beauty. What stands out in my memory of the book is Patchett's well described contrasting landscapes of Minnesota and the Amazon.  When reading the book I felt the difference in the air quality surrounding the main character Dr.Marina Singh. The light, cool air of Minnesota vs. the thick, moist air of the Amazon. The strongest parts of the book was Patchett's ability to drop you into a scene, an experience, a felt sense of where you were. The weaker moments, Patchett's development of the secondary characters, and the relationships you're meant to believe exist between them. Overall, I'd give the book 3 stars out of 4. Book Club what would you say?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Club - April (The Overnight!)

Host: The Farm of a woman named Willow
Location: Point Reyes & Nicasio, California
Book: Hmmmm . . . I can't recall! (Anyone remember?)
Date: April 21 & 22, Saturday/Sunday
Theme: Hikes, Snacks, Tasty Food, Games, Surprise Bachelorette, and Pure Joy

We had long spoken of having a Book Club overnight, and in April 2012 it finally came to pass. Thanks to the collaborative planning and scheduling efforts of all (with Jessie's efforts topping the list on finding a location) we had a great two day break from the urban Bay Area and spent a lovely weekend in the areas of Point Reyes and Nicasio.

The day started off around 9:00 AM, a two car caravan set to meet in Point Reyes Station at Bovine Bakery for breakfast and snacks. From there we headed to the coast for a lovely hike through golden hills and a picnic at the oceanside.

The hike was lovely, complete with seeing horses running on the beach, no sand in our picnic, lots of sunshine, a cool breeze and just enough exercise to break a sweat. We piled back in our cars and headed for Nicasio where we would be staying for the night in the cutest cabin you ever did see.  As soon as we arrived everyone jumped into making hors d'oeuvres.  As we settled in to cocktail hour I was soon surprised by these fabulous women with an impromptu bachelorette party, complete with party plates, lingerie, and a game in the style of The Newlywed Game television show. The only downfall of cocktail hour was as the evening went on a few of us realized that during the hike the sun had been much hotter on our skin than we'd realized.

Before dinner we took a short walk through the field to catch a glimpse of the sunset over the valley. The dear Anna had to leave just before this moment to go home to her beautiful family, but in my mind she was with us as we wandered through the field. This might have been my favorite moment of the entire trip. Time seemed to slow down and for a brief pause time stood still and I felt an overwhelming love for these ladies who I've come to know and appreciate throughout my years in California.

After our walk, the evening turned to dinner, then to games and dessert, and finally into a much welcomed sleep (which was more restful for some than it was for others . . . thanks a lot sunburn!).
The weekend was a perfect mix of sentimental mushy gooshy, deep appreciation, deep belly laughter, and of couse a stockpile of memories for years to come.  

Thanks ladies for making this weekend happen. It's one I'll always treasure, and will never forget.

Book Club - March

Host: Hayley Oggel
Date: March 20th, Tuesday
Book: The Sister's Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
Food Theme: Favorite Foods to Eat When Camping

Due to the fact that I am once again, WAY behind updating the blog, and most importantly the Book Club section of the blog I'm going to keep these retrospective updates short and sweet.

I think besides the fact that we all really liked this book (if my memory seves me correctly), the most exciting news in our Book Club circle this month is that our very own Jessie Murphy is expecting a baby! Jessie announced this exciting news to our group on March 9th at a wine tasting in Alameda. Her virgin soda with a twist of lime gave her away! Currently we know that Jessie and Lucas are expecting a baby girl around the end of October or in early November. 

I think I speak for the Book Club collective that we are SO EXCITED to welcome yet another to the BC2 generation. Trixie, since you're already into walking and talking we'll expect you to get Baby Murphlton up to speed on the reading thing.  And Baby Murphlton, we look forward to meeting you and celebrating your arrival and life on this blue & green marble we call earth.

Congratulations Jessie and Lucas!!