Charting life's circuitous path

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Cozy Reading

It’s officially fall!  I cleaned up my summer garden and fixed up our house with pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. :) I love the season even if I don’t like the weather – too dark, too damp and too cool. The brisk air is wonderful for roaring fires and apple cider donuts – both of which we had a LOT of yesterday.  We went to our first corn maze and had a blast walking through the rustling corn at night and cozying up with sugar speckled donuts.  Corn maze was on my fall bucket list and we had such a great time that I’m glad we were able to go.

Fall is also a great time to get caught up with a lot of reading.  As many of you know, I read a lot through audio books.  I only really “read” a book before bed since I don’t have the time during the day to sit down.  I wanted to share with you a few books I really enjoyed and recommend.  :)

booksCinder by Marissa Meyer

Book One of the Lunar Chronicles

First few lines:

“The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle. Her knuckles ached from forcing the screwdriver into the joint as she struggled to loosen the screw one gritting twist after another. By the time it was extracted far enough for her to wrench free with her prosthetic steel hand, the hairline threads had been stripped clean.  Tossing the screwdriver onto the table, Cinder gripped her heel and yanked the foot from its socket. A spark singed her fingertips and she jerked away, leaving the foot to dangle from a tangle of red and yellow wires.”

Why I love this book and the series:  Besides that killer intro?  I love everything about this series.  The world is a futuristic earth with Cinder as an intelligent, tough cyborg girl that doesn’t moon over the prince but creates a believable (yet sweet) relationship.  The prince (Kai) has actual dilemmas and diplomacy issues he has to struggle with and the overall threat from the Lunars (the race of people from the moon) is both creepy and suitable for the plot Meyer’s weaves between Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress.  I was hooked from the very beginning and never lost interest as she takes a spin on different fairy tales.  I haven’t read a book I literally wanted to give out to all of my friends in a LONG time and this one just makes me want to give it as a Christmas present.  :)

Love, Anthony by Lisa Genova

Quick Spoiler Free Summary: 

“Olivia Donatelli’s dream of a “normal” life shattered when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at age three. He didn’t speak. He hated to be touched. He almost never made eye contact. And just as Olivia was starting to realize that happiness and autism could coexist, Anthony was gone.

Now she’s alone on Nantucket, desperate to find meaning in her son’s short life, when a chance encounter with another woman brings Anthony alive again in a most unexpected way.”

Why I liked it:  This book was beautiful.  The prose dragged me in and lit up the worlds of those living with autism and those trying to understand its shape.  Genova has a wonderful ability to put her readers right into the minds of her characters and this book is no exception.  The lives of the two women are woven together with their similarities and their differences until we finally see how Anthony may have understood his own unique world.  We get to see the beauty in all and also the tragedy of loss.  While this book might seem slow, it unravels gently in the brain to seep and place roots. Must be read with a lot of warm cups of coffee or tea and a big blanket.  :)

Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson

First few lines:

“A WOODEN SPOON—MOST TRUSTY AND LOVABLE OF KITCHEN implements—looks like the opposite of “technology,” as the word is normally understood. It does not switch on and off or make funny noises. It has no patent or guarantee. There is nothing futuristic or shiny or clever about it.”

Why I liked it:  A companionable read about kitchen tools and the kitchen space from spoons, stoves, knives and even rice cookers.  Wilson’s work really shines when she talks about the development of knife etiquette or the evolution of cooking devices from prehistoric to the modern gadget.  I cook a lot and found this to be a really fascinating look into the devices that let me put together dinner every night.  It can be a bit rambling at times, but so is my kitchen.  At any given moment you’ll see me stirring a pot, chopping an onion and pouring the seasoning without any given why or when.  This book can be dipped into and out of easily and I recommend it to anyone that enjoys cooking.

And what book can’t I wait to read?  :)

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

The Heroes of Olympus Book 5

Just published this month, the fifth book sees our heroes running from The Roman legion of Camp Jupiter straight into the hands of awakening Gaea.

I can’t wait to read this book.  Seriously, this series gets better and better as Riordan becomes a stronger writer.  You don’t necessarily need to read it from the very beginning of the Percy Jackson series, but if you can, I’d suggest starting there.  It’s a wonderful series full of action, comedy and a slew of myths. My inner geek loves all of the ways Riordan re-imagines the gods and goddesses for a modern world.  If you’ve only watched the movies, please don’t judge the books. The films are a sad, sad shadow to the original and don’t do it justice in any way.  Team Percy or Team Jason?  I’m Team Nico.  :D

What books are you reading?  :) 

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House Dreams

“you are searching everywhere
you want the sun
find your home
between your eyes”
― Žiga Stanovnik

I’ve been desperately wanting a house to call our own.  My houzz ideabooks are stuffed with greys and blues, plush rugs, stone steps and beautifully tiled laundry rooms.  I’ve been trolling trulia for all of the houses up for sale in our neighborhood (and culling all those that don’t fit my exacting criteria) even though it’ll be at least another 8 months before we can leave this apartment.  We’re not filthy rich, so most of what I dream will stay in my mind.  But that’s okay.  We’ve got time to make the house our home where dreams are realized.

Some people say that home isn’t a building but the people in it.  I’d love for that to be 100% true since it would make waiting with my hubby at a dirty bus stop be like putting our feet up on a cushy ottoman, tea in hand. In reality, while the people and animals you share your home with are the most crucial part of what makes up a “home”, there’s no escaping the long sigh that escapes when you finally sink into your own bed and bury your head into your own pillow after weeks of being away.

Nothing beats familiarity.

I’ve “left the nest” for some 12 years now.  We’ve had our fair share of apartments and a good bit of luck with our current setup.  Having only one neighbor above us beats the surround sound situation of college life – pounding feet, arguments and drunken music.  I can’t believe we put up with so much for so long, but I suppose that’s one of the long held rites of early married life – the “what we had to do back when we first got married” story is firmly written.

Going back to my childhood home, however, was never the same the minute I stepped off the porch.  The fact that my bedroom was replaced with tatami mats and kotatsu and all of my favorite foods were suddenly absent from long stashed cupboards meant that while my heart might never leave family, my actual presence in the house was now that of a stranger.  Or a friend.  But certainly someone that now felt like she had to ask to use the milk or to borrow the fan.  It’s jarring when you fully realize how easily distance can occur.  One day you’re the child who doesn’t even blink to switch tv stations and demands pizza for dinner, and the next you’re politely agreeing to whatever everyone else wants to eat and sitting neatly on the couch.

And it’s not like my parents are all about rules, either.  It’s just a sense of otherness that seeps into the carpet.  Suddenly you see the house as an outsider might and all of its flaws and beauty are laid bare.  Funny how when you’re in your own home we become blind to everyday living.  Currently, I have laundry hanging on chairs after being ironed and a pile of paper sitting on my kitchen table.   By Saturday, when my parents come to visit, all of that will be cleared away and the floors swept.  “This is my home and my life,” the neatly placed coasters shout.

I’m hoping to find a house that we can truly customize to match our personalities and dreams.  I want our home to be somewhere people gather, laugh, eat and relax.  I want it to welcome us with open arms, bright with the warmth of the sun and the solidness of earth.  I want our home to reflect the life held gently between its walls.

And these lovely pictures?  Not our home.  :) They’re ideas taken from houzz of what I’d love to see in our future home.  Dreams, all of them.


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Miso Glazed Eggplant – A fitting end to an experiment

duskSeptember has been a good month.  I’m starting to feel like I can really love September, if the looming threat of snow and cold weather wasn’t apparent in every brown leaf scattered across my doormat.

I’ve been able to get in a lot of great runs so far this month and while I’ve yet to topple the 5 mile mark (I do get really close with 4.5 mile jaunts), I’m not worried about breaking or setting any records.  The random surprise deer spotting, the (sometimes) invigorating music beating away each stride and the crisp air cooling my breath make running one of my favorite ways to unwind.  The spectacular summer evenings are also a good reason why I am an evening runner.  :)

dorayakiThe whole “what can we eat?” question is also starting to become clear.  Here’s what we think we’ll stick by until further notice (or headaches get worse, whichever comes first).

  1. Gluten is “okay” IF (and that’s a huge, Kilimanjaro, IF) we only have it rarely and in small doses.  Pizza one night a month is fine.  Sandwiches and other gluten items from restaurants once a month or so is “okay”.  I know that large doses of gluten sets my tummy aching and even small doses make me crave like I’m going to have twins for days afterward.  I’d rather not crave or ache so we’re keeping the gluten to “special” times (aka restaurant trips where non-gluten items are hard to come by or that piece of cake begging to be eaten). Our house, though, is gluten free.  And you know what?  That’s actually just fine with me. :)
  2. Soy is “fine”.  Neither of us saw any reaction to soy, so it’s back on the menu!
  3. Dairy is “okay”.  My hypothesis about feeling blue once eating dairy didn’t pan out the other times I’ve had it, so I’m bringing it back in.  We’re not chugging it down like we used to (now we get through 1/2 a gallon of almond milk a week vs the gallon of milk), but we’re having things like yogurt or the odd slice of cheese here and there. We don’t really react to it, but I’d like to keep it in moderation.
  4. Chocolate is “OUT”.  We’re going to give it one more test later this month, but the hubby’s had a “test” day twice now and both times have landed him with 3 day migraines.  :'( That seems pretty definitive to me, but chocolate is the hubby’s first love and it’s hard to give up.  Personally, I don’t react at all except to the craving the sugar inspires.  It’s fine with me if we do give it up, but it does make baking non-chocolate goodies a bit harder. I didn’t quite realize how much chocolate based food there is out there.  We tried to go to a local coffee shop to have an iced drink and NONE of the options were without chocolate.  :/ Still, I’m managing to bake yummies for us that fit all of our diet needs.

This little experiment is about to come to a close and I’m so glad we did it.  Our menus are more varied (I made delicious gluten free dorayaki for dessert the other day) and we’re actually eating and buying better balanced food (like the miso glazed eggplant below).  I’m especially happy to see the hubby getting more “normal” headaches from time to time (like stress, dust, etc), than the repeated migraines.  People might think we’re crazy, but at least our lives are happier for it.

misoeggplantWe don’t have a lot planned this month, but that’s okay. I’m soaking up as much cool air as I can before the weather turns and scarves come out.  It’s also pie season soon, so I’ll be brushing up on my gluten free crust making!  :)

Miso Glazed Eggplant

(Note: Recipe is adapted from The Adaptable Feast by Ivy Manning.  All of the ingredients I used in this recipe were gluten free and it came out beautifully.)


  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup white miso paste
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 large eggplant or 4 Japanese eggplants


  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Cut eggplant into 1 to 1 1/2 inch slices.  Quarter each slice.
  3. Turn on oven broiler.  Move rack close to the top of the oven.
  4. Place eggplant cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet
  5. Brush half of the glaze over eggplant and place in oven.  Broil for about 5-10 minutes until it begins to brown.  Watch closely as it might burn.
  6. Turn eggplant slices over and brush with the remaining glaze.  Broil for about 10 minutes, again, watching carefully so as not to burn.  Once nicely browned, take out the pan and serve eggplant with rice.

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