The Quest for Breakfast Continues: Brown Butter Chocolate Oatmeal

You guys, I keep trying to make breakfast happen for my family. My kids, if given their druthers (they’re usually not because “Ugh Mom why do you hafta make us like HEALTHY STUFF??”), would much rather wolf down a couple of bowls of Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes (no, I did not make that up. Yes, there is such a thing as BOTH in ONE BOX. Endocrinologists of the world, rejoice!) each morning before school. But my kids also know that, when given their druthers, they wind up exhausted and cranky by nine o’clock, and that’s usually the time they’re headed into math or gym or their weekly mass at school (they love that last part no, no, not so much) or somewhere equally important that requires a focused child and not one who’s daydreaming about what would happen if sweater lint grew legs. So on a snow day recently, I saw a friend share this recipe and decided to try it. The kids sort-of-kind-of liked it (“Mom? Can I have more sugar?”), and it made so much that I ended up having leftovers…

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel

A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick“Beautifully written and incredibly funny, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about the importance of friendship and human connection. I fell in love with Eleanor, an eccentric and regimented loner whose life beautifully unfolds after a chance encounter with a stranger; I think you will fall in love, too!” —Reese Witherspoon“This wacky, charming novel. . . draws you in with humor, then turns out to contain both a suspenseful subplot and a sweet romance. . . Hilarious and moving.”—People No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine. Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.  But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart…

Description
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. 

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
 
The only way to survive is to open your heart. 
Notes
I'll be completely honest: I almost put this book down. By page 14, I felt like I couldn't connect with the main character, she bugged me with her haughtiness, and I just couldn't see myself reading an entire story about someone so completely unlikeable. Spoiler alert? That's the absolute point. ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE is a funny, surprising, original read. Gail Honeyman expertly crafts this debut so that the reader roots for the unlikeable character anyway, learns to understand her, and even empathizes with her just a bit. If a book can teach a lesson, this one shows us that patience can work magic and that we truly do not understand anyone until we get to know her. Set in Glasgow, Scotland, Honeyman brings us smack into a world of personal struggle, daily monotony (and the reasons for it), individual heartaches, and people who are as real and charming and wonderful as anyone who happens to be sitting next to you on a train into work in the morning. Honeyman's writing reminds me a lot of Maria Semple in WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? and Helen Simonson's MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND (which are two of my favorite books). If you are a reader who enjoys intelligent, witty, insightful stories about the quirkiest of characters, this one is right up your alley. Eleanor Oliphant (our protagonist herself) will stay with you long after you pass page 14 and finish this lovely book.

Rough Start

It’s Tuesday, and I’m sitting in my dark office. It’s about eight o’clock in the morning. I’ve been up since 5:30 but that just means I’m only on cup of coffee #2. David has left to take the girls to school, and Cian is still asleep. It’s completely quiet in here save the ticking of a little clock I keep on a table and the soft sound of the rain falling against the porch roof out front. I’ve a salt lamp switched on. That warm glow is like inside sunshine on a day like this. Most days we all need a little sunshine, manufactured or not. (Salt lamp, do your magic.) I’ll also tell you something else: we had family over to celebrate Easter on Sunday, and yesterday I was too occupied with the kiddos to worry about clean-up. So right now? My office is the only room in the house that’s truly clean. I might very well be hiding. I wandered in here with my coffee to do something after the garage door closed, but I&#8217…