Happy Tastebuds

February 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

I just had to share some of the sweet goodness I’ve been treated to lately. My brother’s birthday was Sunday so of course it was the perfect opportunity to indulge (more than usual? Probably the same.). We feted him with Cheesecake Factory cheesecake and steak and a meal at his favorite restaurant. His love of gummy candy being well-known, I sought to find a jazzier version and Sugarfina delivered. I ordered the Happy Birthday gift set and it fit the bill. The Heavenly Sours were tart and sweet and just the right amount of chewy.

Next, we went in search of these fig bars (stay with me!) that we had on the plane back from Utah. After trips to two Krogers and *gasp* a Wal-mart, we successfully netted Nature’s Bakery whole wheat fig and whole wheat raspberry variety. The vanilla raspberry fig eluded us, but that was the one we’d tried on the plane that started this whole hunt. The new ones we tried were just wheaty enough to make you feel like you’re being healthy, and the sweet figs help bring it back to treat status.

Last but not least, my new coworker brought back chocolate for me from her trip to Asheville and French Broad Chocolates. The vanilla chai was a delight, and what you see here is the strawberry balsamic that I’m trying valiantly to save and savor. ImageShe knows me too well after only a couple of months on the job.

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Book Lovers Never Go to Bed Alone

February 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve always liked that quote, ever since I first saw it, probably printed on a nightshirt in a novelty gift catalog next to coasters emblazoned with “it’s five o’clock somewhere” and slippers with cat whiskers on them. “So many books, so little time” is another favorite. They’re both true, and the above is just a little bit scandalous. I often share my sleeping space with many bound bed partners…ummmm, too much double entendre, maybe? Bringing it back…I’m always reading, even more regularly now that I work at a library. If I had a nightstand that held more than just my lamp, the books would probably reside there. But, it’s just as easy to slide the current tome over to the side and curl up at night when I get sleepy.
I present my current pile: stackofbooks

I found the topmost book at a massive used bookstore in Birmingham, 2nd and Charles, where I’ve also made some money by selling books. I used to be very attached to my books. Since moving back home and being surrounded by books from childhood through high school and college, I have started to realize I can let some go. Especially if I can turn them into new books or, even better, lunch.
     Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: the Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes struck me first with its cover, the evocative design and silky, matte feel to the paper. The stories inside use language and description in a way that I envy, at turns humorous and wistful, always conjuring up a specific circumstance with seeming ease. Each short story, and some that might be called short short stories, invite the reader into the lives of ordinary people during World War II. The author introduces you to characters and their concerns and shortcomings, drawing them so realistically that you want to read more. What I like about Panter-Downes’ style is that it is spare yet full at the same time. Not a word is wasted and her turns of phrase encapsulate emotion without overdressing it. “The Hunger of Miss Burton” gets to the heart of needs and wants in the lean and uncertain wartime, a time that I feel I can relate to through the author’s imagery. She describes a feeling that we all have known, even just during our drive home after work or because we overslept and skipped breakfast. Knowing that food is being rationed for her character makes it more poignant.

“Ever since food began to get a bit tight, Miss Burton had carried a wolf around with her under the neat waistband of her tweed skirt. Sometimes she felt that it wasn’t one wolf only. It was a whole wolf pack cutting up in the vacuum at the back of her grey herringbone. Before the war, she couldn’t remember thinking much about food, but now she thought about it constantly. She thought of thick steaks sitting on beds of fried onions, of cakes topped with a Mont Blanc of whipped cream, of black cherry jam on hot, flaky croissants. Now and then she even dreamed about them, as in the old days she used to dream about love. No more erotic visions of unknown or (even more embarrassing) known males flitted disturbingly through Miss Burton’s slumbers. Instead, they were punctuated with good blowouts of dream food which never had any taste, which melted tantalisingly into the slow return of the chilly room and the school bell clamorously ringing.”

See Park City

February 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

The past few weeks have been consumed with preparing for and embarking on our family trip to Park City, Utah. The plan was to try our hand (and knees and quads) at skiing and snowmobiling; only my brother had ever participated in winter sports before. I am pleased to report that no bones were broken, no one took a tumble that they couldn’t walk away from, and I successfully navigated the ski lift and skied (or, skied and stopped) down the baby slope two times! Image

I was so proud of us! My brother attempted snowboarding again for the first time in 15 years probably, and he has a few knee bruises to remember it by. My mom and dad (pictured below) both gamely took on the challenge of having skinny pieces of some kind of material hooked to your feet via boots that must weigh as much as Ironman’s suit. We had some spills; we got back up. We rode the cool conveyor belt along with the adorable little children stuffed into bright snowsuits that made them waddle like penguins. Image

ImageThe snowmobiling scared me at first, I’ll admit, but once I pressed down on that throttle a few times and felt the frigid wind nip and whip around my face, I felt quite Bond Girl-esque. We lucked into a private tour because the other people in our group didn’t show, and our guide, Riley, treated us to a more involved tour that took us up to 9200 feet, if I remember right. It could have only been better if it had been a clearer day and we could have seen further from that height. ImageI now know what cold truly feels like and can say I’ve seen single-digit temperatures up close and in person. Watching the snow swirl around us as we saw the sites on Main Street, struggling to stay upright and stop when I wanted to on those skis, and spending time with my family making new memories…that’s what I’ll cherish from this trip. Listening to my poor sick brother snore in the next bed over and trying to wrangle agreement on where to eat from each family member and hoofing it to the literal end of the earth at the Houston airport with nary a minute to spare to take off from what can only be described as a portable building “terminal” (Gate B84P to be exact)….that, I won’t miss.

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