Th Reading Lair

Archive for June, 2012

  • 7 Summerlicious Ice Cream Recipes

    Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

    Summer has officially arrived in California! She’s all pretty, and warm, and ripening the fields for morning berry picking and the afternoons for hanging out beside the pool. I like to stretch out on the hot cement and trace the airplane patterns overhead while the kids splash around in the cool water.

    And just when the heat becomes unbearable, the evening breezes kick in and you can watch from your Adirondack chair as the fog rolls over the hilltops while you pretend to read that book you’ve been meaning to get to for forever because it’s seriously supposed to be the “best summer read of the year.” And I really am meaning to get to that book. I swear. It’s just that I keep getting distracted by cravings for summerish things…like homemade ice cream.

    Which is why we made it last night, and why I googled a bazillion different recipes for future craving reference and made a list of the ones that looked the yummiest. You can take a peek and see what you think. Just clickety-click the blue links. And then come back and tell me which summer read you’re working on…

    **And if you’re currently in Colorado with all the wildfires raging, my heart goes out to you along with my prayers. If I could, I’d mail you ice cream. And a hug. And a giant force-field of safety.

    Here goes:

    1. Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream (via Former Chef)

    Strawberry ice cream evokes in me the mood for picnics on pretty sheets beneath oak trees, and reading books by L. M. Montgomery, Charlotte Bronte, and M. M. Kaye.


    2. Salted Caramel & Candied Bacon Ice Cream (via Spoon Fork Bacon)

    Bacon? This ice cream has Dorothy Sayers’ hero Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey written all over it. Knowing him, he’d eat it in the bath. With his tea. Like the old British hottie that he is.


    3. Thai Basil Vegan Ice Cream (via Conscious Kitchen)

    The perfect ice cream for indulging in Marissa Meyer’s fabulous sci-fi/dystopian novel “Cinder.” Or even a little Mrs. Pollifax from Dorothy Gilman. (Of course, one would need to wear an awesomely flamboyant old lady hat to round out the experience.)


    4. Guinness Ice Cream with Chocolate-Covered Pretzels (via Food & Wine)

    And this is the ice cream we made last night. (Note: There are no chocolate-covered pretzels in the pic because I ate them all. :0)) We changed the recipe slightly by adding a few extra ounces of Guinness (to use it up) and a touch of cinnamon (simply because I thought it’d blend flavors nicely, and it did). Obviously, the alcohol burns off, leaving a subtle malty flavor, which is mild and homey. Also, we used agave nectar in place of cane sugar. Later on, we tossed crumbled choc chip cookies on the leftovers. I think it’s similar to what I always imagined Harry Potter’s butterbeer tasting like (if it was more buttery and minus the cinnamon).

    6. Peach & Toasted Pecan Ice Cream (via Southern Living)

    Everything about this makes me want to reread Maggie Stiefvater’s “The Scorpio Races” (for the sweet simplicity of it). Or “The Help,” or “James and the Giant Peach,” or “The Secret Life of Bees.”


    And finally, from my friend Cathe’s blog:

    7. Vegan Chocolate-Chai Ice Cream (via Cathe’s Kitchen)


    So there you have it, preciouses! Don’t forget to leave a comment telling us what book you’re on, or supposed to be on, or wish you were on.  Happy warm summer reading and eating!!!


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    Posted in Reading Recipes, Uncategorized | 15 Comments »

  • In Which I Dish About My Parents

    Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

    My parents are currently off gallivanting around the world on a cruise ship in celebration of the fact that they’ve been married for 40 years. Yes, you read that right: 40 YEARS.

    Considering I can’t even stay attached to my treadmill longer than a few minutes, 40 years is seriously impressive.

    If you ask me how they’ve done it, there are 8 things I’ll likely tell you (before I go on gushing about how amazing they are). Because like most children raised in an opinionated home, I was spoiled enough to come away with some well developed beliefs about life, marriage, and my parents. Annnnnnnnd seeing as they’re away and won’t see this blog post for at least another day or so, I figured I’d fill you in on all the juicy details as I see them.


    Here you go: The 8 secrets to my parents’ 40 years of marital success as posted by me.


    It’s true. Sorry David, Kati, Jon, Daniel, and James—out of six of us kids, one had to be their favorite, and it’s obviously me. (Why else do you think mom and dad bequeathed me the fake Christmas tree in their will? Exactly.) And the fact that I exist has immensely contributed to their life-long love for each other. In fact, I imagine they go to bed every night thinking, “Man, we’re so glad we spawned Mary. She makes every moment worth living.”



    At some point in life, every kid makes a choice to believe their parents are never-nudes. This is mainly due to seeing your parents kiss and flirt with each other as if they’re teenagers. Especially when they do it in front of your friends, and you’re like, “Ah gross! You still kiss each other?” And they’re like, “Yes. All the time. It’s called being in looooove,” in that voice that’s sure to mortify you. And thus you decide that while kissing appears to be one true secret to their happiness, believing they’re never-nudes is the secret to the rest of the family’s happiness.



    Everyone in my family is slightly disturbed on some level. It’s what makes the hard times easier because my parents know that whatever annoying/weird/eyebrow-raising thing their kids are doing is probably genetic, and thus they’re both to blame — hence creating a sense of parental unity.

    It also makes us more fun. Just go with it.



    My parents love to laugh. As often as possible. (Rumor has it this may be influenced by point #3 above, but I’m more inclined to say it’s due to point #1.)


    5. MUSIC

    Music makes the heart happy, and happy hearts are more gracious toward each other. Maybe that’s why my parents always have Pandora on. And for being old(er) people, they seriously have the best taste in music. Their playlist is some kind of mix between CCR, Smashing Pumpkins, Genesis, U2, a Riverdance type thing, and Death Cab for Cutie.

    Also? My dad’s been known to attend U2 and Nightwish concerts with my brother. Sometimes I look at him and I’m like, “Who ARE you?” because he’s so dang cool.

    Except, of course, for the whole kissing-my-mom-like-they’re-sixteen-again thing.


    6. BOOKS

    You should see the bookcases in their house. It’s something they have in common, and it just confirms my belief that those who read together live out a thousand happy adventures together.



    My parents love people, and people love my parents. Which is why those people are always at my parents’ house. Well, that, and it’s the consequence of having 6 kids—no matter how many of us move out, we still come back to eat Mom’s food or to bring our friends/kids/spouses over for eating Mom’s food. And it may or may not be coincidental that these particular visitations happen to be the same time of day in which my parents bring out the coffee in the morning or the wine for pre-dinner refreshment.

    I’m not exaggerating when I say that they’ve spent their lives serving others — both in the community and in their home. It’s a passion they share, and one I deeply respect them for.



    More than anything, I’ve learned that this looks like a commitment to WORK IT OUT. No matter what “it” might be in a particular moment. And I can tell you that (just like for the rest of us), over the years there’ve been many particular “it” moments. There still are. But the choice to take responsibility for, and work on, their own individual issues means that when they come together, they each bring a huge measure of humility to the table. I see it play out in respect, authenticity, and the mutual commitment to keep on learning what love means.

    May I do so in my own marriage as well. :0)


    So here’s to you, mom and dad (when you get home and read this, and, uh, hopefully remember that I really am your favorite child).

    I love you guys.

    Happy 40th Anniversary


    Another post you might enjoy: “A WRINKLE IN TIME Book Review (in which I rant about how my parents almost ruined my life)”


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    Posted in Dear Teen Self, Romantic Things, Uncategorized | 25 Comments »

  • How Fast Do You Read? Be a Geek and Take This Test

    Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

    This reading speed test has been making the internet rounds lately. It’s fun, quick, and curious — so of course we must try it!

    Just clickety-click the giant picture below, and it’ll take you to the start page. You can even re-take the test by choosing between three different book passages as well as adjusting the length settings. And when you’re done, come back and tell us the verdict (you’ll find mine below)!

    Have at it, preciouses. :0)

    Reading Speed Test

    reading speed test
    Source: Staples eReader Department

    So…apparently at my normal pace (and in my normal environment, complete with kid noise in the background and coffee in hand), I could read War & Peace in about 28 hours, the Bible in a little over 37 hours, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in, like, 1 hour and something minutes.

    However, I can tell you with 100% certainty that my actual reading speed is somewhat slower. When I’m reading, I’m rarely just breezing through a story. I’m analyzing the writing and style and voice as a means for learning the writing craft, which means I’m totally that person who’s bookmarking pages and rereading sentences, and sometimes I’m even muttering them aloud just to feel their rhythm on the tip of my tongue. Yes, I am a geek and my husband is coping with that fact.

    I also took the test according to my skimming speed (also known as my “Good grief this book is boring / irritating / driving me crazy but I just need to find out how it ends!” speed), and based on that, I could finish War & Peace in about 22 hours. But to be honest, I’m not sure how much of the details I’d be able to coherently recount back to you. “It’s, uh…about war. And peace.” Right.

    How about you?


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    Posted in Games, Uncategorized | 16 Comments »

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