BOOK REVIEW: The New York Times : Footsteps

Literary travels are incredibly attractive to me. What was the author looking at, how did a place influence his vision and story development? I was always curious about this story-place connection. A  new book called The New York Times: Footsteps explore this in a delightful collection of essays that were originally featured in The New York Times travel section.

9780804189842

The essays touch almost every corner of the world-  Americas, Europe, Middle East and South East Asia. Some places I would never associated with a particular author (such as Mark Twain and Hawaii, probably for me having a limited knowledge of his works). I loved essay on Mary Oliver, exploring Prince Edward Island with L.M. Montgomery was another favorite. Those two I went after first.  It was fascinating to read about Rimbaud in Ethiopia and I particularly enjoyed a peak at Carroll/Dodgson’s  Oxford. I am slowly working through this book, savoring each little essay and possibly making travel plans of my own. I am not reading it in any particular order, focusing for now on beloved works and making a list of those I haven’t got a chance to read yet.

I enjoy this book so far, it is very interesting to see the place through a personal connection of an essay’s author and still imagining what it must have looked like to a book author at the time. I wonder if I can make at least few of these trips myself. Interestingly enough I imagined this book as a sort of a tourist guide originally, but I am glad it turned out to be almost diary-like experience. 5 stars.

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. 

BOOK REVIEW: DINNER by MELISSA CLARK

I don’t often see a cookbook that deals with specific meal of the day, or rather when I do, it’s focusing either on breakfasts or special occasion. It’s the first time I came across a book that is dedicated specifically to dinners. Melissa Clark, a writer for a number of cooking publications offers an astonishing collection of recipes that are meant to “change the game” of typical dinners by adding new flavors and giving new options to a home cook.

9780553448238

The recipes are organized by main ingredient, which is helpful (although I’d prefer to have all the poultry in one section, rather than chicken separate). There is a good number of light dishes and a plenty of vegetarian choices. The author uses lots of ethnic flavors too. Most of the recipes are kid friendly. We tried a few simpler ones, and they turned out pretty yummy. Most of the ingredients look easily attainable.

Overall impressions: With over 200 recipes to choose from this book looks like a delight. It will take me a while to cook through it, which means lots and lots of new dishes for my family to enjoy. The recipes are easy enough to put together and directions are fairly straightforward. Gorgeous photography.

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review

BOOK REVIEW: 32 Yolks by Eric Ripert

Memoirs are so fascinating to me. The beginnings are always the most interesting -how do people even start, how do they decide this is it and embark on the journey. Culinary memoirs are a whole special category. This time I read Eric Ripert’s 32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line. Eric Ripert is a French-born chef, who owns the famous Le Bernardin in New York. He is also the author of numerous cookbooks and a TV personality.

9780147522726

In his memoir Eric talks about his early years- the childhood in Antibes and Andorra, dealing with his parents’ divorce and brutal treatment from his stepfather, challenges he had to overcome on his journey of learning the art of fine cuisine. The book is laced with Eric’s love for food, it almost seems that his future as a top chef was predestined from his earliest years. I loved his descriptions of the warm atmosphere of family gatherings and important people and mentors in his life. The story of his time in cooking school and apprenticeship made me appreciate the hard work that goes into creating a meal worthy of a Michelin-star even more.

Overall impression: I enjoyed this book. My version was the audiobook and the narrator Peter Ganim has a very pleasing and soothing voice. It was an interesting read. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in fine cuisine and the process of becoming a chef. I will have my children listen to it when they’re older (there are some topics that they’re not quite ready for just yet, plus some strong language here and there).

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review

January 2017

Already a month into 2017. January sure went by fast. Yet at the same time it was a month of adjustment, rather than new beginnings.

img_0845We went back to doing school after nearly a month-long break. Kids went back to their extracurricular activities. I went back to my work and had a very productive month. Life moves in measured paces more or less, with a crazy day here and there of course.

 

We went to see Star Wars the Power of Costume in Denver Art Museum, and we absolutely loved it, such a large and thorough exhibit. Local people, if you haven’t yet, definitely go and take a look, it’s on until April.

img_1140

D. did three days of World Peace Game with our homeschool group. It was such a valuable experience for him and made him think about current events more.

School was mostly “getting into the swing of things” and hopefully it will be better in February.

Gray and white cold days, splashes of color of mundane things – the combination seemed comforting somehow

img_0939

img_0929

 

img_1212

 

img_0881

My favorite moment was probably playing with Excentric Cinema book by Beatrice Coron. Kids had so much fun moving shadows and making up stories

img_1255

I ended up making one of my own papercuts out of black paper and it worked too

img_1318

 

Kids read (beyond a pile of re-reads):

D. read Pax by Sara Pennypacker and White Fang by Jack London

C. read BFG by Roald Dahl and Amazing Animal Stories by Quentin Blake

Mama read Spaceman by Mike Massimino and absolutely loved it

 

I have opened a bookstagram  with most of our reads. Come and take a look. I have a Litsy account under the same username too.

So this was our January. February looks quite busy, but it is also shorter. I hope to keep the measured pace and not give in to the crazy moments.

 

 

Book Review: Spaceman by Mike Massimino

In his autobiography “Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe” Mike Massimino, a NASA astronaut and Columbia University professor describes his journey from a childhood dream of being an astronaut to actual walking in space (of which he and his team set records). As soon as I started reading this book, I was absolutely captivated by Mike’s tale.

9781101903544

His manner of writing is very frank and straightforward. He just tells his story like it is, and it’s impossible to put down. His journey wasn’t always smooth, neither was it always aimed for the space. I admired his determination when he made a decision to get into space program. How he overcame stumbling blocks on his path, his personal ethics – everything is admirable. His story is full of the most important lessons in life -the value of education, the value of public service, deep desire to be a better person, true friendship.

Overall impression: Loved this book to pieces. My 11 y.o. son is reading it now, and I am sure it will make a difference in his world perception, and no doubt will inspire him . Absolute must read.

 

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Goodbye October+ First Week of November

October is over, whaaat?

That was one crazy month. Even though we didn’t have a particularly heavy schedule life seemed busy.

What have we been up to in October:

-We had guests: D’s godfather and his wife came to visit and spent nearly a week with us. We were so happy to see them and their visit gave us the longed-for opportunity to take a small break in our studies.

dsc_1374-collage

-I received kids’ MAPS test scores and was pleasantly surprised to see how well kids did, especially C. who tested as a third grader (to have her sip the grade was a spontaneous decision and I am still questioning it from time to time),  D. did wonderfully, but he almost always does, good job to both of them.

-Studies at home went well for the most part. We hardly had time for much besides core subjects for some reason, I am glad kids take science and history at co-op, this way at least  there they got their electives covered. They did lots of art on their own. But that would be my major goal to get beyond core in November.

-C. had her choir camp, D. was working very hard in Concert Choir and helped his friends there learn a song in Russian. They sound really good, can’t wait to hear them at the concert as well.

-We all got through a stomach bug, that makes it two times we got sick this school year. Something needs to be done.

-The weather was gorgeous, we got to see some amazing colors. The trees are getting bare now and we are ready (well, almost ready) for winter.

dsc_1703-collage

First week of November was loaded with things to do and thoughts to process:

-C. is heading to her first karate tournament next week, so she’s working very hard on learning her forms and practicing sparring. D. is going too, but it’s his 10th, so he’s more relaxed this time around.

-We went to Denver Art Museumimg_20161102_114234

-Just a handful of practices remains for choir before the big concert. Looking forward to that a lot.

I finally opened my Etsy store, YAAAAY! I have put a few cards out already, so come and check it out.

 

What my kids read in October:

C. read “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick and it took her all month to get through the book, but she loved it

D. read

The Archer’s Goon by Diana Wynne Jones,

Call of the Wild by Jack London, and

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

There were also tons of re-reads, which I didn’t keep track of.

Mama read:

Across the Universe Trilogy by Beth Revis. I read quite a bit of Young Adult novels this year, not just because they’re fun, but also to add to D’s “to be read” pile, this trilogy, although it was fast-paced and interesting read will have to wait for a couple of years.

 

Plans for November:

We have A LOT going on outside of home. I will need to try and balance it out so our school at home doesn’t suffer. But personally, I hope to reach the level of calm that will support me throughout the winter months.The past weeks were anything but calm, there was anxiety, there were struggles with children and general uneasiness about certain matters. Health wasn’t the best either, especially for kids. I crave the sense of calm and simplicity, so I will work on that this month.  I am already preparing for our December celebrations and hopefully will make an advent calendar slowly instead of at the last minute like past years.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Natural Color by Sasha Duerr

As someone who enjoys needle felting I was always curious if (or rather how) can I dye my own wool and, although a number of chemical dyes are available, natural colors always seemed more attractive . For that reason Sasha Duerr‘s book “Natural Color” immediately caught my attention. I used to look through blogs and natural dyeing videos and tried to systematize all the information somehow, and it is nice to see there is an actual book that got all the questions I had covered. Let’s take a look.

9781607749363

The book discusses the entire process of natural dyeing, from finding the plants, getting the color out and until the final result is ready. Truly it is a wealth of information, presented in a friendly, accessible manner . And not just basics, the book touched various techniques too. The recipes are very straightforward and precise, quite easy to follow. I loved how the recipes were organized by season , and although not all the plants are available in my region for foraging specifically, some are and I can’t wait to try. There is a section on mordants that I found very helpful, different options are discussed and the process is explained so well, I really appreciate the meticulousness. The photography is beautiful and  I am getting inspired by merely looking through the book.

Overall impression: I am in love with all the projects in this book, not just for wardrobe, but for the house too. I am looking forward to trying them one by one. The book is a valuable asset to anyone who is interested in natural dying. 5 stars.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.