lola rugula cold cucumber salad recipe

reading material

My husband bought me a Kindle as an anniversary gift years ago, when they first came out, and I truly love it. The ability to have an almost-endless variety of books at my disposal 24 hours a day is a dream come true for me.

I bought the much-upgraded Kindle Paperwhite for my mom’s birthday last year and she loves hers, too. I admit I love the touch functions and backlighting on hers, but I’m hard-pressed to give up my original, because I’m terribly sentimental that way.

I’m not always the first to read a best-seller, but my hands-down favorite this year was the Pulitzer Prize winning “The Goldfinch“.

The goldfinch by donna tart.png

Here’s the description from Amazon:

“The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind….Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction.”–Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love–and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

This book truly enthralled me and made me lose more than a few night’s sleep because I simply couldn’t put it down. I browsed through some of the reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble before posting this and was surprised at the number of people who disliked this book immensely. The most common complaints seems to be that it’s too long, too wordy, and/or too depressing.

With 784 pages, it is without a doubt a long read. Though I didn’t anticipate the dark areas that this novel delves into, I still found it riveting. Life is not always sunshine and roses and neither is this book.

Have you read The Goldfinch? Did you love it or hate it?

Do you own a Kindle? I’m curious to hear what version you have and what you like or don’t like about it. Though I’m still contemplating upgrading mine, for now I’m pretty darned happy with the one I have.

lola rugula cold cucumber salad recipe

simple, beautiful swiss chard

Yes, I’ve been very busy in my gardens. Flowers and veggies and mulch, oh my. But I’ve also tried to relax a bit and enjoy the early summer. A screened-in patio with a ceiling fan and hammock really help with the whole “letting go” process. I’m thinking once we get our new hot tub up and running, I’ll be the queen of letting go. Honestly, you may never hear from me again.

With relaxing comes reading and I’ve read a few good books lately. Devil in the White City is a recent one I’ve tackled. I’m not much of a history buff…okay, I hate it…but there’s a serial killer intertwined throughout the tale, so that kept it interesting. If you’ve read it I’d love to hear your thoughts on it…especially if you’re not enthralled by the historical aspect of anything at all.

Along with summer comes fresh veggies sometimes prepared in the simplest ways. Warm, lazy evenings call for low-fuss and high-flavor. Freshly picked Swiss Chard begs for just a touch of heat and a bit of oil and acidity to make it glow. lola rugula easy way to prepare swiss chardI like to pick my Swiss chard while it’s still somewhat small but honestly I love it no matter what size the stalks. Like a number of my recipes, this isn’t overly exact or complicated.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil or grapeseed oil in a hot pan. Drop in a couple of healthy handfuls of clean Swiss chard. Sprinkle on about a teaspoon of kosher or sea salt. With a pair of tongs, toss the chard around just until wilted. Sprinkle on a few drops of rice or balsamic vinegar. (Fresh lemon juice is nice, too!) Serve.

I warned you it was simple.

lola rugula cold cucumber salad recipe

books to read

I love reading books and almost always have one that I’m engrossed in. My favorite books to read are suspense, humor and true crime – that’s a nice mix, isn’t it? But I also enjoy books on gardening, health and cooking.

I’d love to write my own book but time and talent are both in short supply in that endeavor. I am, however, lucky enough to have a number of friends who’ve written their own books, which I recommend:

  • The Wealth Diet by Kathy Zant. This book is about realigning your mindset towards greater wealth, abundance and happiness, which I’m pretty sure is something we could all use.
  • Ida Louise and the Lucky Sweater by Julie Augensen is a lovely children’s book that also teaches a wonderful lesson. This is a great gift idea too, in which case I recommend an autographed copy addressed to the child of your choice!

And if you are interested in writing, especially youth writing, please check out Jodell Sadler, who does editing, teaching, illustration, design, and workshops.

This post came about because Jodell and I were discussing books on her Facebook page and she recommended Brain on Fire, which I cannot wait to read. I recommended to her Every Bush is Burning by Brandon Clements. I just finished Brandon’s book and was so moved, that I tweeted about it. And he was amazing enough to respond to my tweet, which raised my already high impression of him all the more.

So I know this is a very short post but just a little worm in your head if you’re a reader or interested in writing. If you’ve read a great book lately, I would love to hear about it…I’m always searching out new books and authors to lose myself in.