March Reading

It was another quality over quantity month for the reading list this past month.

My favorite was Long Man by Amy Greene, and you can read about it here. It’s everything I want to hear from a local voice.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey was another excellent book, almost magical, like a fairy tale. The delicate details of the Alaskan scenery are like Jack and Mabel’s love, not always confident but always complicated and beautiful.

Jack and Mabel are grieving the loss of a pregnancy and hopes of creating the family they want so badly. They move and pour their energy into homesteading in the 1920’s Alaskan wilderness. Faina, the snow child, comes to their homestead fantastically, in a blizzard. She arrives when their relationship is failing, and they are challenged with discerning if she is real or imagined. Jack and Mabel are looking for a new beginning together and Faina provides that foundation, even if it is fractured and slippery.

A brassy and bold neighbor of Mabel says earnestly, “We never know what is going to happen, do we? Life is always throwing us this way and that. That’s where the adventure is. Not knowing where you’ll end up or how you’ll fare. It’s all a mystery, and when we say any different, we’re just lying to ourselves. Tell me, when have you felt most alive?” {Drop the mic, as my daughter would say}

365 Thank yous by John Kralik. It was inspiring and humbling to read his story. He is self-admittedly arrogant and depressed, and hears a voice in the wilderness calling him to be a better version of himself. Through the process of writing a thank you note every day, his outlook changes from grumbly hateful to humbly grateful for the people around him, at work, on the street, and his family. It reminded me of the message of our church retreat, about allowing God to break in to our every day lives. (Perhaps try to put Philippians 4:8 into practice, if you that is something you feel lead to do.)

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby was mysterious and fantastical (and maybe a little too mysterious and fantastical for the audio version I was trying to listen to as I ran this past month). It was less confusing once I checked out the actual library copy, but I loved the narration of the audio version. The story moves around a high school boy, who witnesses a crime and wrestles with his role in the crime, as well as discovers love and his identity in the process. (And now that I know the ending, I’d like to reread it; it’s that kind of book.)

What are you reading? Anything inspiring or hard to put down? I’d love to hear!

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Eat Now: Radishes!

I have found that eating produce that is in-season is one of the easiest ways to save those grocery dollars, but it also maximizes the nutritional benefit of those veggies that you are spending your hard-earned money buying.

Radishes are not exactly packed full like your superfoods kale and blueberries, but they aren’t bad either – and you can get a bundle for less than a dollar (or grow your own easily from an inexpensive pack of seeds).  They have both ascorbic and folic acid, as well as potassium, vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, and calcium.

My favorite way to eat them is sliced paper thin on buttered toast with a little sea salt (pictured above). Not fancy, but dresses up some otherwise bread & butter in a delicious way.

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I also picked up Nourishing Meals recently and made the Grapefruit, Radish, and Cabbage Salad. The recipe calls to serve immediately, but I ate it for lunch for 3 days and it kept getting better. The champagne vinegar with the grapefruit juice was so sweet and tangy, and the crisp red cabbage and spicy radishes stood up nicely to it.

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Grapefruit, Radish, and Cabbage Salad (my version, adapted slightly*)

  • 6 cups red cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 4 pink grapefruit, sliced without pith 
  • 6 small radishes, sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Toss cabbage & radishes, slice grapefruit into the salad. Then whisk the dressing & toss into the salad. *I doubled the grapefruit & used red cabbage instead of napa cabbage because that’s what I had on hand. I left off the snipped chives to dress.

 

 

Long Man: A Novel

I wanted to feature Amy Greene’s latest novel #1 because she is an East Tennessee local author, #2 because she writes so beautifully about this region, and #3 her stories are so real they will have you googling for more information to unearth the fiction from the truth.

Long Man is set in 1930’s East Tennessee, during the height of TVA’s progress building dams and bringing electricity and modernity to many rural parts of Tennessee. The fictional town of Yuneetah rings like Loyston, a real town that was uprooted during the creation of Norris Dam. The book centers around a family whose little girl goes missing in a bad storm, just moments before they are set to evacuate and the flood waters are rising. She uses those family members and extended family, a drifter returning to the area, many townspeople, and TVA representatives to paint this picture of a town on the brink of extinction and the indecision in the face of the unknown.

Greene perfectly captures the pride of these impoverished people and the Cherokee influence on the region. Through the voice of Ellard Moody, the town sheriff who is investigating the lost child, her description of how he plans to move forward and what he wants to remember of the town of Yuneetah rang so beautifully true to me. She writes that he wants to remember “how a fresh crewelwork of snow dressed even the dustiest of their farmyards. How leaves shaped like hands of their babies sailed and turned on the eddies of the river. How an open meadow sounded when they stood still. How ripe plums tasted then they closed their eyes. How cucumbers smelled like summer. How lightning bugs made lanterns of their cupped palms. How it felt to come in from the cold to where a fire was built. These things they hadn’t lost. But, like Ellard, they had grown too weary to see them anymore.”

The narrator in the audio version has a Southern raspy accent, and it helped shape the story at first, but I grew frustrated near the end because it felt too slow. Just as TVA wanted to ignore the voices of the town of Yuneetah in the name of progress, I too wanted to see progress in the narrator’s accent. I ended up returning the audio version and getting the actual library copy so I could read faster.  If you like reading about East Tennessee, both Amy Greene’s Long Man and Bloodroot are excellent books to add to your reading list.

Quilt Progress

IMG_3895Houses have been cut, along with a coordinating door. The doors will not be uniform in size, and I will applique them on the house block. I am thinking of stitching them in place with either or these decorative machine stitches.

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Slow progess, yet progress nonetheless…

I hope everyone is having a great week!

New Beginnings

Currently:

Intro to Middle School 101- We are feeling left out already and middle school doesn’t start until next year. Our daughter has had multiple briefings and tours of the school, and decisions have had to be made based on information they have given her alone. But Parent Night is finally this week! Which, I assume, is to tell us that we need to butt out. I’m not ready!!

Unicorn sleepover party planning- So in an effort to feel more “in control” we are pouring our energy into planning the best 11th birthday ever. So far, that means the parents will be banished to the bonus room while the 11-year-olds have the run of the place.

Listening to Star Girl, by Jerry Spinelli & narrated by John Ritter. Ah, a comforting voice. Come and knock on my door, friend 🙂

Struggling to reduce sugar, wheat & dairy. It makes me feel so much better! So why do I struggle? Two words- Easter Candy.

Search for the best new kicks for the half marathon. I am currently running in Brooks Adrenaline. I need support, but also love cushioning, and run wider than narrow. (Basically, I’m an elephant.) Thinking about Asics Gel-Cumulus or New Balance 1080. Any recommendations?

Coming off Church Retreat High. We had a lovely weekend in Montreat, North Carolina with our church family, learning to pray and watch for God to “Break In” our every day lives. Our youngest is on such a high, we caught her pretend-play teaching the children’s message to her stuffies, mimicking the youth pastor at the end “Let us go to God in prayer, repeat after me…” So cute!

Cheers to new beginnings!