Recipe Review: Oatmeal Sandwich Bread (5 stars)

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

Take One

On my sixth day of self-exile in my own home, and several sourdough loaves later, I wanted to try something different. My lazy self, before the world turned upside-down, would buy a loaf of Pepperidge Farm Oatmeal bread once or twice a month. Baking bread, especially sourdough, isn’t onerous (Thank you Lord for my bread machine!) but does require you set aside the time necessary to manage the process. It doesn’t require a lot of brain cycles, but in my previously ‘normal’ routine, starting bread after six o’clock at night meant being up past my bedtime before it was done and cool enough to bag. Weekends were usually spent running errands, volunteering, shopping, visiting friends and relatives or attending events. For the foreseeable future, my bread machine and I are going to be BFFs!

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My Top 50 Books from Last 10 Years

The end of the year and this decade arrived unexpectedly. Well, not completely unexpectedly for the former, but the whole ‘where did the twenty teens go?’ thing caught me by surprise. I’ve been reading and listening to ‘decade in review’ articles and podcasts for the last couple of weeks. Which inspired me to analyze my reading of 965 books over the last ten years.

The following compilation of ‘Top Five’ books for each year starting in 2010, do not include my occasional re-reads of favorites, like the works of Tolkien, Lewis, Jordan, Donaldson and Modesitt.

2010 (read 102) 

  1. Blackout/All Clear by Willis (Hugo/Nebula/Locus Best Novel Awards) 
  2. Under Heaven by GGK 
  3. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Stein 
  4. A Civil Compaign by Bujold 
  5. Breath and Bone/Flesh and Spirit by Berg 

2011 (read 75) 

  1. Wars of Light and Shadow (books 5-9) by Wurts 
  2. The Lions of Al-Rassan by GGK 
  3. The Wise Man’s Fear by Rothfuss 
  4. The Empire Trilogy by Feist & Wurts 
  5. Ready Player One by Cline 
Continue reading “My Top 50 Books from Last 10 Years”

Four Decades of Fellowship

The Fellowship of the Ring

Part One of The Lord of the Rings

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Read in late 1976 or early 1977

Rating:  Five Stars

Review originally published at GoodReads

1976 Ballantine Fantasy Mass-Market Paperback Edition (well read condition with some interior handwritten remarks)

This battered well-read edition of The Fellowship of the Ring still stands on my book shelf, amidst it’s younger, better bound, brother editions. While reading essays contained in Meditations on Middle-Earth, it struck me that nearly all of these authors (many of whom I’ve read and enjoyed their own authorial subcreations), enjoyed a similar life-altering reading experience at about the same point in time as myself.

To confirm my theory (and increasingly dim memory of my life four decades ago), I pulled this paperback off the shelf and became immediately distracted by the notes written to me by my friends on the backside of the covers. No one signed their epigraphs, but I can still decipher the handwriting and put faces to scrawlings. But back to my original quest: The actual publication date of this mass market paperback (also confirmed here at GoodReads): 1976

If I acquired this edition that year, and read it then (which I have no doubt I did), I would have been either 11 or 12 years old (depending on the time of year; my birthday occurs in early October). If I received this edition (and their companions) in the following year (1977) the oldest I would have been reading it would have been 13. But I remember reading Lord Foul’s Bane in paperback (published mid-1978) after reading Tolkien’s masterpiece, so I’m reasonably confident I was either twelve or thirteen when I first visited Middle-Earth. Continue reading “Four Decades of Fellowship”

Books I Loved 2017 Edition

At the end of September I reached that point in the year when I could shake off all my various book club obligatory reading and get down to the serious business of reading the books I bought for myself all year long.  Not every year gives me a break where I can read what I want.  I often have to squeeze in my ‘must read’ books between the two to three other books I read per month for various discussion groups and book clubs.  Don’t get me wrong.  I very much enjoy reading outside my comfort zone and would not give up the wonderful discussions and cherished friendships I’ve nurtured through a shared love of reading.

Moss "Loved-It" Shelf YTD 2017

Most years, I read between 75 and 100 books; last year I read 88 and as of today I’ve read 99 thus far in 2017.  And only about ten percent make it onto my ‘loved-it’ shelf (the equivalent of a five-star rating).  This year had a few more than normal and will probably end with two to three more on the shelf before year’s end (because I’m now reading what I’ve had on hold for most of the year).

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Zen for the Ages

My uncle recently read and reviewed the late Robert Pirsig’s seminal Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  I’ve added this book to my ever growing list of philosophy-related to-be-read pile.  For more of Ron’s insightful review, please proceed to his blog via the link below:

Book Review: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert M. Pirsig Five Stars “We are all of us very arrogant and conceited about running down other people’s ghosts but just as ignorant and barbaric and superstitious about our own.” I wish I read this book forty years ago. Instead […]

via Book Review: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert M. Pirsig (Five Stars) — As a Matter of Fancy

Stuck in 1945

Two consecutive weekends I’ve returned to the Pacific, specifically 1945.

The Great Raid (2005)Last weekend, I watched The Great Raid, which I’d somehow missed when it was released twelve years ago in 2005.  This movie retells the story of The Raid at Cabanatuan, a rescue of Allied prisoners of war (POWs) and civilians from a Japanese camp near Cabanatuan City, in the Philippines. On January 30, 1945, during World War II, United States Army Rangers, Alamo Scouts, and Filipino guerrillas liberated more than 500 from the POW camp.

This movie was a segue for me from The Railway Ran , which I watched two years ago and that I mentioned in my recent post on ‘Dropping the Bomb.’

My Rating:  3.5 to 4 stars

Joseph Fiennes turn in an excellent performance as the tragic Major Gibons, but the real surprise for me was seeing Connie Nielsen as Margaret Utinsky.  I spent half the movie distracted because I could not place her face in my memory.  I gave up and checked IMDB and had that epiphany feeling when I realized she performed as Lucilla in the twisted Roman triangle with Commodus and Maximus five years earlier in Gladiator.

USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage (2016)I followed The Great Raid yesterday with a viewing of U.S.S. Indianapolis: Men of Courage.  This film more closely related to my post about ‘Dropping the Bomb’ since “In 1945, the Portland-class heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis, commanded by Captain Charles McVay (Nicolas Cage), delivers parts of the atomic bomb that would later be used to level Hiroshima during the ending of World War II. While patrolling in the Philippine Sea, on July 30 in 1945, the ship is torpedoed and sunk by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) submarine I-58, taking 300 crewmen with it to the bottom of the Philippine Sea, while the rest climb out of the ship and are left stranded at sea for five days without food, water and left in shark-infested waters.” (Wikipedia).

My Rating:  3.5 stars

I survived Cage’s stilted acting, with the help of the supporting cast, who performed admirably and believably.  Matt Lantner, whose grandfather, Kenley Lanter, was one of only 317 men to have survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis.  Matt portrayed Chief Petty Officer Brian “Bama” Smithwick with his usual All American boy-next-door Midwestern heart.  And did I mention he’s also the voice of Anakin in Star Wars: The Clone Wars?

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)I ended the weekend with the much anticipated and highly acclaimed Hacksaw Ridge, which I’d been hesitant to watch for fear of a too real portrayal of warfare (remember the opening to Saving Private Ryan?).

Hacksaw Ridge is a film “about the World War II experiences of Desmond Doss, an American pacificist combat medic who was a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, refusing to carry or use a firearm or weapons of any kind. Doss became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor, for service above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Okinawa.” (Wikipedia)

My Rating:  4-4.5 stars

Outstanding story, directing and acting.  Truth is so much stranger than fiction and infinitely more inspiring.  “Just one more, Lord” are words to live and die by.  I highly recommend this movie and I’m sorry I waited so long to watch it.

Recipe Review: Cranberry Spinach Salad ~ 5 Stars

Cranberry Spinach Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered
  • 1 pound spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook and stir almonds in butter until lightly toasted. Remove from heat, and let cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, onion, paprika, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, and vegetable oil. Toss with spinach just before serving.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the spinach with the toasted almonds and cranberries.

My Thoughts

My husband and I have made this salad several times for ourselves and family members.  I discovered spinach later in life and now it’s my favorite leafy indulgence.  The dressing perfectly compliments spinach and the cranberries and almonds add tartness and texture.

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Book Review: Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck ~ 4.5 Stars

Of Mice and Men

by John Steinbeck

Read by Gary Sinise

Listened to late Oct/early Nov 2016

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis (via GoodReads): Of Mice and Men was John Steinbeck’s first masterpiece. Originally published in 1937, it’s the timeless story of George Milton and Lennie Small, ranch hands who drift from job to job, always one step ahead of the law and a few dollars from the poorhouse. George is small, wiry, sharp-tongued and quick-tempered; slow witted Lennie is his opposite—an immense man, brutishly strong but naturally docile, a giant with the mind of a child. Despite their difference, George and Lennie are bound together by a shared vision: their own small farm, where they’ll raise cows, pigs, chickens, and rabbits, where they’ll be their own bosses and live off the fat of the land.

My Thoughts

This review is a follow-up to my previous post on challenged books for 2016 (click here to refresh your memory) .  Of Mice and Men is my first Steinbeck.  I must admit I’m impressed.

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Movie Review: The Water Diviner (4.5 stars)

The Water Diviner

Released: December 2014 (Australia) and April 2015 (America)

Watched Netflix BluRay: February 2016

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis:

Four years after the Battle of Gallipoli, Australian farmer Joshua Connor (Russell Crowe) travels to Turkey to find his three sons, who never returned home from the war. When he arrives in Istanbul, he meets others who have also suffered losses: hotelier Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko) and her son, Orhan, who befriends Connor; and Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdogan), a Turkish officer who fought against Connor’s sons and now may be their father’s only hope in finding closure.

My thoughts:

My husband and I watched this on Saturday afternoon, Valentine’s Day weekend.  I did not expect there to be a touching romance, but was pleasantly surprised to find one midst all the death Joshua persevered through in his search for his sons

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