Category Archives: Books

Kitchen Cookbooks

It would be nice to have a full wall of shelves near the kitchen table, filled with cookbooks ready to be perused – and returned – right in the room in which they are used. I don’t have that. I do have a library, and there are several shelves full of cookbooks, but it’s nice to have a spot, even if it’s counter space, for currently used books.

When we were designing this kitchen and filling a secondary wall with cabinets, I traded a wider bank of drawers for a turned base. Easier with a picture:

Accessible to the working area of the kitchen and hidden from the table and guest area, it’s never neat and tends to gather dust as a busy corner, but it’s great to have. The top is stuffed with planning papers, the occasional cooking magazine, appliance manual, and recipes I’ve printed. The shelves are not, by any means, favorite cookbooks, but a mix of currently used, new-to-be-read, or simply resting.

Cool Waters is kind of fun for jazzing up water or plain soda. Marcella Hazan for many reasons but recently her pasta gorgonzola, and Tender is a gigantic, beautiful combination of gardening and recipes. The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper is a fun read, and I hear there’s a new one, must look into it. Do you know Super Natural Cooking and its sister on the shelf below, of 101 Cookbooks?  La Tartine Gourmande, also new and a nice blog. Mark Bittman. Of course, Mark Bittman.

There are two tiny paperbacks I bought in Italy, which I never use but love to see there on the shelf. Over the winter I made a delicious chickpea stew from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and a cake from Martha. More Mark Bittman. Between him and the slow cooker book is my recipe journal, where I try very hard to record recipes I want to make again so they won’t be lost forever in the flurry of sticky notes marking pages. Love Mollie Katzen’s Vegetable Heaven.

I don’t dislike the cookbooks I haven’t mentioned – I would give them away if that was the case – I just haven’t used them recently, or perhaps enough. Now, it’s nearly 9 a.m., and it is time to figure out what’s for dinner!

Books on the Coffee Table

Books. Gorgeous when they are sitting around in piles, awesome when they are opened up in your hands.

In the library there is a leather loveseat, a coffee table to catch new books, and often a cocker spaniel between the two. Other shelves hold “to be read” books as well, which means that the books here are either going to be shelved with their mates once read, or moved over to the TBR section when other new books arrive.

They look nice there, although the table is pretty much useless for anything else. It has become a landing place for new books, but also, unfortunately, a place where books I’m reading can get buried.

Let’s see…

Top to bottom, above:
Leonard Cohen, Poems and Songs Required reading, he must remain visible at all times.
A Year of Living Your Yoga Nice.
Infinite Jest I swear I’m going to finish it someday.
Wool Omnibus I read all of these on my Kindle and loved them. Wanted to support the author by buying a copy, which he signed.
Far Flung and Well Fed Food writing, TBR
Zeno’s Conscience TBR, I think my son gave this to me, but maybe I just thought he would also like it?
Brain Candy TBR, I have no idea what this is.

Snowmen and History of the Snowman Would have been so fun to read through again during a snowstorm. If only we’d had one.
In Defense of Food I’ll get to this soon.
The Food Matters Cookbook I was pleased to find that my husband remembered that I love Mark Bittman, and bought this for me for Christmas.
Shirtmaking I will never attain this level of achievement in sewing, and I’m okay with that.
The Kitchen Linens Book is exactly what you think it is.
Steve Jobs A friend gave it to me and I look forward to reading it.
World Vegetarian My first Madhur Jaffrey. Obviously, cookbooks do not move into the kitchen until I’ve read them.
Nutrition A textbook from someone’s class last semester.

Blink I’m loving this book!
La Bella Lingua Ditto, although it is a reminder than I have been lax in my Italian language study.
Gandhi I flew through most of it and then it found its way to the bottom of the pile on my nightstand, and now I have a hard time whenever I try to get back into it.
New York Diaries This was a great idea for a diary anthology, look into it! It’s one to pick up now and then, read a bit, and put back down.
Bigfoot: I Not Dead  We, meaning my family and a few dozen people of various ages, got a kick out of this. It’s pretty brilliant sometimes.
The Anthologist Started it. Stopped.

Knitters, Wool, and Hugh Howey

Knitters are diverse. There are girly-girl knitters, geek knitters, grandma knitters, hipster knitters, nerdy knitters, and conservative knitters. A quick run-through of knitters I know gives me pagan, pastor, teacher, seamstress, software engineer, social worker … kind of fun. Knitting brings us all to the same table, where I’ve noticed at least one other commonality: we read. During a gathering, once we’ve checked out what everyone else is making/frogging, commiserated with this one and congratulated that one, and after acknowledging yet again that we really can’t cable and talk at the same time, we talk about books.

I have yet to sit with a group of knitters without ipads, phones, and Moleskines being whipped out of knitting bags to jot down the book titles that start flying around the room. We’re a literate bunch. We knit and we read, and while I’m not willing to go so far as to give the collective “we” to a genre, I’ve noticed that a lot of us read sci fi.
So have you read Wool?
Wool is the first in a series of short stories – novellas? installments? – by Hugh Howey. They are not about knitting. I repeat, they are not about knitting, although there is a character who knits and there is a piece of wool. We spend a few lovely paragraphs with the knitter’s thoughts as she admires her needles (wooden needles in a leather pouch, “like the delicate bones of the wrist wrapped in dried and ancient flesh.”) and casts on for a sweater. The titles are the best use of knitting metaphor ever:
Proper Gauge
Casting Off
The Unraveling
The Stranded
I started to think that Howey either knits or is close to someone who does, and I was  right. I read the first book, Wool, and then immediately bought the Omnibus, with the first five stories. (God love a Kindle for instant gratification.) Go get it, in print or on your Kindle .  Then you’ll go to his website and discover, as I did, that there is an imminent sixth story, and that there is much more to discover about Howey, his fans, and his work.

You’re welcome.

Cover for the Cover

Some things are meant to wear and show distress marks as they age, like the table in these pictures or my favorite wallet, and look beautiful the whole time. Other things, like ipods or cellphones, are meant to be eternally scratch-free and are instantly encased in high-tech protection the very moment they are opened. Or so it goes, if you are me.

My Kindle Touch cover doesn’t fall into either of these categories. For one thing, it is the protective cover. It’s a nice shade of green, the Kindle is tightly nestled into the wired recess with its built-in book light, and it protects the screen. All good. But. What protects the cover itself?

And this, I know, is where it gets weird. There’s some kind of line one crosses when considering protecting the protective apparatus. 

My Kindle (nicknamed Star Trek Reader) is on my nightstand 95% of the time. The rest of the time it’s traveling with me, in my purse or suitcase. The cover is getting a little scratched in spite of my care when transporting it. It’s not the kind of leather that’s going to wear and soften; it’s just going to look beat up. I decided the cover needed a cover, so I made this sleeve out of one of my favorite fabrics.
Insert a triumphant “ah ha!” here.
Along the way I decided it really needed a little pocket for a mini Moleskine, to be used for jotting down books for the TBR list, and a pencil sleeve. I raided the box of vintage buttons and found this dusty black one. It is fasted with a narrow black elastic loop.
I love it.
It is lined with another of my favorite fabrics.
Pretty cozy in there, yes?
While I caught some flack from family members about my aversion to scratches and dings, I might put one on etsy for the “others” out there. 

iPads, Kindles, Peace

Yesterday I read this article in the New York Times Magazine and it struck a chord. I’d already read about Kindle Singles but that’s not what grabbed me here. The writer’s points (and the printed version may be different from the online) about the commercialism of the web and the attendant “noise” are spot-on.

Read it and see what you think. Kindle Singles are welcome here in an age of USA Today and short news blurbs; apps for my iPad that present my RSS feeds, FB, magazine content, videos, and news subscriptions without flashing peripheral ads every few seconds are fantastic.
So basically, I think this defends my position of being (possibly unhealthily) involved with my iPad and Kindle.

Books on the Table

I was talking with a friend about the books that are in my house, waiting to be read. There are dozens, occupying one full shelf and several piles on a table, not to mention my bedside table or Kindle.  I thought I’d share, starting with the table.

 Fire Underground, The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire, David DeKok – – Because I have been to Centralia and I am fascinated by this, an underground fire burning since 1962. So creepy to see the deserted town area, but creepier to read about how badly the whole thing was handled.


Lucia, Lucia, Adriana Trigiani – –  Because my friend Nancy said I would totally love the Italian references. For the same reason, she also gave me Trigiani’s Very Valentine.

The Anthologist, Nicholson Baker – – Because you have to buy something when you are in an indie shop, and it caught my eye.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan – – In Defense of Food is around here somewhere as well. 

A Voyage Long and Strange, On the Trail of Vikings, Conquistadors, Lost Colonists, and Other Adventurers in Early America, Tony Horwitz – – Because, as my friends know, my knowledge of American history is woefully inadequate and I am always looking for something that will capture my interest and teach me something. Can that happen if you just leave the book around, like osmosis or something?

Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout – – That same Nancy said I will like this one too.

Palladian Days, Finding a New Life in a Venetian Country House, Sally and Carl Gable – – Please. It’s Venice.

Book of Longing and Let us Compare Mythologies, Leonard Cohen – – Please.  It’s Leonard Cohen.


Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing, David Page Coffin – – I think the title tells the tale. I will never sew to that skill level, but I sure can read about it.

American Gargoyles, Crist/Llewellyn – – A lovely little book with lots of pictures. I swiped this from DS1 and promise I will put it back. Someday.

Divine Proportion PHI in Art, Nature, and Science, Priya Hemenway – – Another lovely book with lots of illustrations and sidebars exploring the Divine Proportion. As above, swiped this one from him too. That’s a Real Simple magazine on the right, and what looks like a ski trail map on the left.

Christmas at the New Yorker, Stories, Poems, Humor, and Art – – This was left out from Christmas just like that ribbon full of Christmas cards in the kitchen that I keep meaning to take down and put away.

Arthur Rex, A Legendary Novel, Thomas Berger – – Because when my husband and son were buying me a special edition of The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley, but you knew that.) the bookseller thought I needed to have this as well.

8 Weeks to Optimum Health, Andrew Weil, M.D. –  – Because I like him, and I’ve got 8 weeks. And health.

The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper, Recipes Stories, and Opinions from Public Radio’s Award-Winning Food Show – – Nice food read and some recipes to try.

Dance Me to the End of Love, Poem by Leonard Cohen, Paintings by Henri Matisse – – This is part of the Art & Poetry series which pairs…you get the idea. It’s beautiful, and again, it’s Leonard Cohen. Great song. As a matter of fact, you should listen to it here.

The Knitting Olympics are rolling along, but the combination of so many hours of television commercials combined with my still painful tailbone are making it an actual challenge! I am recording them now so I can just whiz past the commercials.


Note to DS,

I am still only halfway through Anathem simply because much of my reading time lately has been in bed and Anathem lives downstairs. I am really enjoying it and want to point out two of my favorite lines so far:

“Our opponent is an alien starship packed with atomic bombs. We have a protractor.”


“That man behaves so much like the villian in a work of literature, it’s almost funny.”
“Yes….it’s as if he’d never even heard of foreshadowing.”

Cracked me up.

Knights, Ladies, weird fantasy costumes,and KINDLE

I’m meeting DD and boyfriend today at the PA Renaissance Faire. I’m looking forward to it, I love going. Not getting dressed up this year. I will buy candles and honey from the beekeepers that are there, and some wine from the Mt. Hope vineyard.

Hey, in other news, someone told me that Oprah had the inventor of the Kindle on her show, it’s hew new favorite thing. In the world, I believe. Changed her life, she says. I get it because I LOVE mine. She gave one to each of her guests, as well as $50 off a Kindle to anyone who wants to order one by November 1. I am putting this up as a public service announcement because you should buy the readers on your list one for Christmas. This makes it $309. I know. It’s a killer, but the books are MUCH cheaper and you know they are still going to buy paper editions of their best books anyways!

Note to DS

Look, all the books left in your room fit into the two teak bookcases – not a terribly neat arrangement, with some shelved flat, but I think it looks good. Hey, you can enlarge the picture and visit your books…..

I took these two out of your room to borrow because they look interesting. I photographed them so you will have the picture to hold over my head until they are returned.


Oh boy, what have I gotten into here? We finished the office floor and decided to move some things around – to turn the office into a TV room, and to turn the old TV room into a library. So basically, every single flat surface on this floor is COVERED with either:

  • office things, like files/computer/printer/copier/etc
  • books books BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS
  • TV things, like dvds/vcrs/tapes/cables
  • Things that used to be on shelves, like photo albums, sculptures, framed photos, knitting baskets – – you get the idea. So here, take a look at what has happened – my house is GONE!

Look at the foyer. Complete with a sofa and bookcases. There is a view of the dining room from the kitchen…..the living room just keeps getting worse….and this used to be the kitchen!

Does anyone want to come over and help?


I’ll make cookies….no wait….I can’t get to the stove…