Posted on | May 14, 2013 | 1 Comment
Yes, you, thirtysomething, fortysomething and beyond. You, in the Dansko clogs. I see you there.
Some people say that if you’ve worn a trend once in your life, you can’t wear it again when it comes around a second (or third) time. To that I say hooey. You can wear it again, but you might have to wear it in a different way.
For example, maybe you can’t pull off the neon jeans shown below. Maybe, like me, you wore similar yellow jeans to a YMCA dance in eighth grade and simply hate to be seen in the same look twice. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The reason has nothing to do with thoughts like highlighter butt.)
Okay, so the neon jeans are a no-go. Or maybe not. If you can rock ‘em, go confidently in the direction of your day glo dreams. I’ll smile from the sidelines.
For the rest of you, go to your closet. I sure as hell bet you’ve got a black or, even better, a navy blue dress in there. Or, if your life’s not compatible with dresses because your child likes to use your pants for wiping yogurt off his face, then pick out a black, white, or blue t-shirt. Pair that sucker with an inexpensive neon yellow necklace like the one below. Ta-da! All of a sudden you’re the trendy girl at the office or in the day-care pickup line.
Your toddler will definitely think your spiffy new necklace is a teething ring, though. Just a warning.
Posted on | April 26, 2013 | Comments Off
My husband and I are remodeling a house, a 1920s bungalow just a few blocks from where we currently live. So lately my life–when I’m not working, writing, or toddler wrangling–consists of making decisions on plumbing fixtures and watching a lot of Rehab Addict. I’m finishing edits on my novel, Vintage, and working on my next book, which takes place in the vineyards of Spain. Sometimes, late at night, all of these various thought trains crash into one another, and I end up with a little something like this.
Posted on | March 21, 2013 | 3 Comments
My husband says that waking up on the first day of the NCAA tournament is like Christmas morning for him. But I’m familiar with the real March madness, and basketball has nothing to do with it.
The real March madness is the feeling you get when you watch the thermometer on your car dashboard drop from fourteen to eleven to five degrees Fahrenheit. It’s the first day of spring getting bitch-slapped by winter, year after year.
It’s devouring gallons of coffee and carb-loading with baked goods because winter will never end and you’ll never need to wear a bathing suit again.
It’s straitjacketing your toddler into his parka and boots yet another time—a process that looks, to bystanders, like nothing so much as a greased-pig contest at the state fair. And you’re losing.
It’s questionable patches of dry, red skin that make you envy the shiny produce under the mist sprayers at the grocery store. It’s nosebleeds and hair static that makes you look like this:
In a word, it’s madness.
Posted on | February 27, 2013 | No Comments
Today I’m thrilled to be featuring an interview with Madison author Erin Celello about her latest novel, Learning to Stay (NAL/Penguin 2013), which, as Erin describes it, explores “the question of what happens when one person in a marriage becomes someone fundamentally different.”
In Learning to Stay, what triggers the change is a traumatic brain injury that the husband, Brad, suffers while serving in the Iraq war. The injury dramatically alters his personality, transforming him from a thoughtful and patient man into someone who requires much more care than his wife, Elise, can provide while also keeping up with the demands of her career as a lawyer. I’m not yet finished with the book–so no spoilers here–but Erin is an author who tends to pack a lot of action and emotion into her early pages, so already I’m hooked.
Q: What inspired you to write Learning to Stay?
ERIN: I’ve always been intrigued by relationships and marriage – why some succeed, or simply survive, and why some unravel – and what the balance is between staying true to oneself and to the person with whom you once exchanged vows, because so often, over the course of a marriage, people change. And not all couples are adaptable as others in the face of that kind of flux. This was a topic, a question, that was addressed with great humor and insight in a memoir I read years ago called Where is the Mango Princess by Cathy Crimmins, and I’ve been looking for a way to explore it through fiction ever since. When, a few years ago, the media began reporting on Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress as the signature injuries of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I knew I had my story.
Q: What is the most challenging part of the writing process for you?
ERIN: All of it. Really. As Dorothy Parker once said, “I hate writing. I love having written.” That’s true of me. I find that the only part of the process I love is the beginning, when I’m enthralled with my premise, my characters – when I’m still getting to know them. But that part is fleeting, and the rest of the process is a slog, filled with much angst and many moments of self doubt. I used to feel as though every time I wrote something halfway decent, that was it – the well had run dry. But then I read somewhere that Bono felt much the same way whenever he penned a new song, and I felt a little better. I learned to trust the process a little more. Now, the angst and doubt is still there, but it’s more like sharks lazily circling my little writing raft instead of snapping at it.
Q: Did you learn anything surprising during the research process for this book?
I was surprised on a nearly daily basis, both by the horrific statistics of suicide and intersections with the criminal justice system related to returning veterans, and by the severity of some of the situations the families of these soldiers found themselves in upon their loved one’s return home. Not all who served in Iraq or Afghanistan experience difficulties – some come back and readjust just fine – but for some, the situation is much more dire than Brad and Elise’s. It’s a case of truth being stranger than fiction. I could never write some of the stories of so many military families as they’re actually happening across this country; my editor, or a reader, would likely say, “That’s too much. All that could never happen to one person or family.” But it does, and it is.
Thank you, Erin, for stopping by Glossing Over It! I couldn’t agree more with that Dorothy Parker quote.
Posted on | February 14, 2013 | No Comments
Valentine’s Day has got me thinking of my favorite love stories in fiction. There are so many of them, and I’m sure even more favorites will spring to mind as soon as I publish this post. Here are just a few that stand out for me. You’ll see they are just as varied in genre as they are in publication date. What can I say? Love takes many forms.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. This book weaves a love story through time, as Henry journeys in and out of Clare’s life. It sounds fantastical—and it is—but Niffenegger makes the time travel element both plausible and enchanting. Her descriptions of Chicago neighborhoods and landmarks are spot-on.
Love Story, by Erich Segal. I found my mom’s old copy of this book and tore through it in a day when I was nineteen. I’ve read it several times since, and the ivy league setting and the age-old story of WASPy boy falls in love with working class girl gets me every time.
Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel. What I love about this book is that it is a real-life love story about ordinary people, made extraordinary in the beautiful way it is told. Frances and Dennis meet on a weekend trip when they are in their twenties. Francis falls in love with both Dennis and his family’s vacation home, built on stilts in the waters of Biscayne Bay in Miami. They build a life and a marriage that, like the stilt houses, must endure unpredictable perils and strive to remain standing.
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. Most people probably don’t think of this as a love story, but it is. Especially with all those allusions to Pride and Prejudice. And who doesn’t love the line where Mark Darcy tells Bridget: “I like you very much. Just as you are.”
What favorite love stories are on YOUR list?
Posted on | January 21, 2013 | 3 Comments
I love to cook, but lately finding the time between work, writing and parenting has been a challenge. Enter, crock pot. I’ve been trying out a lot of crock pot recipes lately for weeknight dinners. I prep the ingredients the night before, after my son is in bed, and stick them in a ziplock bag in the fridge overnight. Then, the next morning, I dump the bag into the crock pot, turn it on the “low” setting, and leave for work. When I get home, it’s ready to eat and there’s no need to hem and haw over what to make for dinner. This spicy vegetarian West African-style recipe is one of my favorites. It’s inspired by a menu item I love at a local brew pub, The Great Dane (and, coincidentally, it goes great with a cold IPA). The hearty texture and the multi-layered flavors are seriously crave-worthy. And, best of all, it is really easy to prepare.
Crock Pot Recipe: West African Spicy Peanut Stew
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 handfuls of fresh cilantro leaves and stems
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- Index-finger-sized chunk of fresh ginger root, peeled
- 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (I prefer the natural kind)
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and pith removed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- black pepper, to taste
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can lite coconut milk
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
- 1 large sweet onion, chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper chopped
- 1 (15 ounces) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 4 cups cooked white or brown rice to serve the stew over
- 1 tablespoon chopped peanuts (optional garnish)
- In a blender or food processor, combine garlic cloves, jalepeno, cilantro, ginger, tomatoes, peanut butter, cumin, cinnamon, ground red pepper and curry powder. Blend into a thick sauce.
- In the slow cooker, add the garbanzo beans, chopped onions, red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the sauce mixture, brown sugar, and coconut milk. Stir to combine ingredients. (Or, if you are making it the night before, you can just put all the ingredients together in a ziplock bag and stick it in the fridge, then dump the whole thing in the crock pot the next morning).
- Cook in crock pot on low for six to eight hours. Serve over cooked white or brown rice and top with fresh cilantro and chopped peanuts.
Posted on | January 4, 2013 | 2 Comments
I debated whether or not to tell you. After all, I publish recipes on this site. But, as someone who battles perfectionism, I think it’s important to share imperfections.
So there it is. Some days I interview pastry chefs. Some days I visit award-winning artisanal farms. Some days I spend 8 hours making pesto or canning pickles. And some days, I put a carton of Trader Joe’s Mojito Salmon in the oven and forget about it until there is smoke wafting from the oven.
I’m not kidding about the flames. I had to toss the whole damn thing outside in a snow bank to keep the smoke detectors from going off.
I’m not perfect. But that won’t stop me from attempting a recipe this weekend from my new Smitten Kitchen cookbook. I’ll just make sure I have a fire extinguisher handy.
Posted on | December 21, 2012 | 3 Comments
This fall, Edible Madison editor Jamie Lamonde contacted me to ask if I was interested in writing a feature on Bloom Bake Shop and its owner, Annemarie Spitznagle, for the winter issue. Bloom is a small-batch dessert bakery in Middleton, Wis. that uses local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. Of course I wasted no time in saying, “OH MY GOD, YES!” I mean, who wouldn’t love to sample and write about cupcakes, whoopie pies, and to-die-for French press coffee?
The afternoon I spent at Bloom was about so much more than cupcakes, though. Annemarie and I talked about goals, determination, and finding the place where work and passion intersect. You can read the article here. I think Annemarie’s story will inspire anybody who has a dream to do something creative and off the beaten path.
Posted on | December 11, 2012 | 1 Comment
But here’s the problem: I am a serial overcommitter. A manic multitasker. And, as someone who works outside the home, parents a toddler, and writes fiction, I have a full-to-spilling schedule. (This doesn’t make me unique, by the way. I bet you’re multi-tasking while you read this.)
Anyway, my point is that I don’t need more stuff to do, I need less. Or at least to focus on the things I’ve already got going. Rather than pinning all-day cassoulet recipes, I need someone to pin me down and say, “Hey, instead of pinning 101 things to do with pallets? Yeah. Maybe you should make that appointment to get the couch steam-cleaned. It’s starting to smell like dog and spilled milk.”
I don’t need to learn how to churn my own butter. Or how to make a light fixture out of plastic spoons. Or step-by-step instructions on how to make a DIY stick horse… unless that stick horse can gallop me away to a spa weekend, in which case, giddyup.
Posted on | November 19, 2012 | 2 Comments
The holidays are here. It’s time to take down that platter or roasting pan you keep on high shelves or in the back of the cupboard. One of things I love about Thanksgiving, besides the license to stuff myself silly, is that it provides an excuse to use seemingly impractical, single-purpose items like gravy boats, table runners, and brandy snifters. Unique vintage items, like those pictured below, suggest a time when people didn’t eat dinner in front of the TV or lunch hunched over a desk. It’s as if they say, Sit down. Linger. This is special. Stay awhile.
That’s the kind of holiday spirit I can get behind.
Clockwise from top left: vintage rosewood candlestick holders from RefinedHome, vintage Dansk ceramic fish gravy boat from elefantdesign, vintage cobalt Viking bowl from TwoGuysVintage, vintage Russell Wright pitcher from bergenhouse. All on Etsy.keep looking »