Choices, Choices

Dear Erin,

Oliver Twist is pretty fun, although I’ll admit that my exposure to the musical gave me nightmares the first time I was in London. And that was in college. Your pizza looked yummy. I will definitely have to try that some day soon.

Now that I’ve finished the one book, I have to decide what to read next. Here are some options:

bookshelves

That’s not counting the bookcase upstairs. I’m sort of in the middle of all of these:

books1

Plus one by my bedside, and several ebooks. Of course, there are the new books from Christmas.

books2

And the many that for one reason or another, I feel like I should read, but just haven’t gotten around to.

books3

I’m not even sure of how many are on my list of “Those I Need to Read so I can Decide Whether or Not to Keep Them.” And that’s saying nothing about the massive pile of magazines that’s been accumulating.

magazines

I’m tired just thinking about it. I might just go watch TV instead.

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Breakfast for Dinner

Dear Kristen,

I admit that I’ve never read A Tale of Two Cities – scandalized? – but Oliver is on my “To Read” list.  Someday I’ll get to it…

This past week, someone brought Ukrops Breakfast Pizza to the Bible study I attend.  It was delicious!  The end result, I wanted a second sliver…but apparently everyone thought it was delicious and there was none left.  Boo.

I decided to quench my new need for breakfast pizza by making my own.  Here’s what I did:

1. Made pizza dough following the Joy of Cooking’s recipe.  I’ve made it a few times before, so it wasn’t difficult.

IMG_88632. Scrambled 6 eggs with a dollop of sour cream for extra flavor.  I scrambled them until they were mostly cooked but still a little runny. (I think 5 eggs would be sufficient in the future.)

3. Topped the pizza dough with the eggs, cheese (Monterey Jack and Cheddar), and cooked bacon.

4. Baked for 10 minutes at 350°.

IMG_8867It was good, but not as good as Ukrops.  I don’t know what magic Ukrops bestows on their pizza, but this isn’t a bad option to at least have tried.

A (Short) Tale of Two Cities

Dear Erin,

I’m sorry about your disappointments this week! I’ve been hearing grumblings about Downton Abbey all week, and I’m thankful to be unaffected by the general upset, as I’ve yet to watch any more than the first episode. And your poor elephant! I think he’s awfully cute, myself. But whether you have disappointments to get over or not, Dorothy Sayers is always a good idea.

tale of two cities

Picture from the 1935 movie

Speaking of novels, I finally finished Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities (1859). Have you read that one? You know I’ve never gotten into Dickens, despite having taken an entire grad school class devoted to him. His work is just too … Victorian, I guess: sentimental, sprawling, grotesque and covered in coal dust. Yet, many people I respect and like really do enjoy Dickens and find him worthwhile, so I feel like I need to make sure to try very hard to give him a fair chance before writing him off as “not worth my time.”

At the urging of my husband, who has an affection for it, I read this one. Seems like a reasonable choice – it’s certainly one of the five most famous of Dickens’s works – and I’ve always been attracted to the French Revolution as a subject of study. The strange thing is, the further I get from it, the better it seems in retrospect. While reading, I was annoyed by the flaws I saw. And there are certainly flaws – most of the characters are flat and kind of dull, the plot is characterized by improbable coincidence, and I generally despise overt sentimentality about dying children and perfect, beautiful blondes who do nothing but suffer heroically. I like to think that’s because I have too much of a sense of humor and self-esteem, but it could just be because I’m a brunette. I about threw the book across the room at the scene that contained both those elements.

However, that was only one scene, and there were others that were a joy to read, such as the exquisite first trial. Although I would argue that its weaknesses keep A Tale of Two Cities from being a masterpiece, there is enough strength in there to make this an engaging book and worth reading. The doubling throughout, for instance means that Tale works on some level like a compare/contrast essay, with the virtues of that type of writing: The dangers of the corruption in London’s law courts are highlighted by the contrasting of Darnay’s London trial with his two Paris trials, in one of which justice is carried properly.

And while I didn’t love most of the characters, I did very much enjoy dissolute but romantic Sydney Carton, and ruthless but compelling Madame Defarge. For Carton’s sake, and because I’m afraid of Mme Defarge, in the end I come down on the side of recommending this book to those who are looking for a decent story and a world of black and white morality, and who maybe don’t need much more than that to enjoy a book. B

A Few Disappointments

Dear Kristen,

Those chocolates looked delicious!  I got some yummy truffles and our Valentine’s Day was great as well.  Though….I’ve had a number of disappoints since then.  Three to be exact!

Disappointment #1 – Pinterest project fail.

Source: Life Via Photography

Source: Life Via Photography

So these mugs are all over the place on Pinterest and I decided to make one for Matt for Valentine’s Day.  So, I followed the instructions: write, bake at 350 for 30 minutes, and enjoy! Well, less than a week later, here’s what it looks like:

IMG_8861

Disappointment #2 – Elephant Tatted Teeny

I’ve been experimenting with the idea of creating stuffed animals to sell, all with tattoos on their rumps.  I’ve done a whale and turtle – both of which I created patterns for myself.  This time, I used an existing pattern for an elephant.  The legs, however, were a fail.  They don’t sit out at all!! Plus the tattoo looks more like a gourd than a peanut.  And the eyes aren’t right – but that’s true of all the animals at the moment.

IMG_8858IMG_8859

Disappointment #3 – Downton Abbey

I don’t want to give any spoilers in case you haven’t seen the season finale yet, but if you have seen it you’ll understand my disappointment.  I know there are people who will disagree with me, but it felt like a shock for shock’s sake.  It wasn’t necessary for the plot’s success or continuation. Oh well.  As Matt likes to remind me, they aren’t real – it’s fiction.  Very true, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

There is a bright side, though.  The good thing about disappointments #1 and #2 – they can both be redone! As for #3…I guess I can drown my disappointment in a Dorothy Sayers novel.  I know that I like the way Strong Poison and Gaudy Night end.

Valentine’s Day Goodies

Dear Erin,

I hope your Valentine’s Day was a lot of fun. I suspect, with the Munchkin around, that your celebration is a little different from ours. Charles has become a master over the years at getting me a perfect little indulgence. Last year it was t-shirts:

VDayTshirts2012

But most of the time, he goes a bit more classic: chocolate! This year, he found Chocolate Dream Box, a boutique close to his office, and got a selection.

VDayChoc1

There were more than three

I’m trying to restrain myself to eating just one a day, but it’s hard work. Aren’t they pretty?

Cherry

Cherry

Strawberry

Strawberry

Caramel

Caramel