Hi! It’s Pub Day, here again! There are some INTRIGUING new books being released into the world today, everybody. Shall we take a look? Fiction The Bell in the Lake: A Novel, by Lars Mytting Just Like You: A Novel, by Nick Hornby …
Hi! Tuesday is Publication Day in Book World. It’s the most exciting day for an author: new books are released by their publishers, we get to read them, and all are happy. Because I know many of you like to read as much as I …
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 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.
If you could have checked my Facebook feed this weekend, I’m sure it looked a lot like yours, if you’re an East Coaster, too: snow. Lots and lots of pictures of snow: rulers stuck into patio-table-topped drifts, kids with huge smiles sledding down hills, dogs sunbathing on top of the shrubs in the front yard. We got 37 inches where I live. I know this only because I checked it out online. I don’t go outside in the snow. Nope. I stay inside. I make hot chocolate, and bake cookies, and catch up on the laundry. I take a couple of fuzzy iPhone pics out of obligation from the open front door, wave at my children–“Are you coming OUTSIDE, Mommy?” Nope, nope, poor children, I am not–and quickly shut it again against the cold. I like the white stuff as it’s falling–probably because it means I don’t have to go outside in it juuuuust yet, and also because it’s an excuse to make a cocktail and go back to my book and pet the cat who just curled up on my lap.
I’ve easily–sadly, yes, but oh-too-easily–slid into the gender role cycle of the husband who goes outside to shovel while I, like a good ’50s housewife, cook dinner or darn a sock or something. (I think David would much rather I put down the apron and join him outside, but then I make him a Manhattan and he doesn’t say a word, which probably doesn’t help in my feminism. On a different note, I’m starting to understand why states in the north midwest have such lax liquor laws). I will gladly volunteer to hang up the dripping snowsuits and wipe off the dog and dole out words of encouragement (“Good job, Dave! You’re really making a dent in that three feet!”), but I will not, cannot, bring myself to go outside in it if I don’t have to. I realize this makes me sound like a terrible person, but it’s not like I can hide it. It’s not like any of my neighbors saw me outside this weekend going for an icy run and ooh-ing over my dope snow-angel-making skills.
I lived on my own for years and years before I got married. I’ve shoveled feet of snow off the roof of my car. I’ve laced up the snow boots and cleared paths and walks. I’ve done all that, and will do it all again. My mom, widowed for almost eight years now and fiercely determined to remain independent–I am so proud of her–was out there trying to snowblow her own long driveway until the machine broke and a neighbor volunteered to dig her out. There is something about doing it yourself that makes you feel like you can conquer almost anything. But when you don’t have to–when there’s somebody else who’s taller and stronger and can do the same work in half the amount of time and doesn’t say a word when you volunteer to make the hot chocolate and put away the laundry, well. One who hates the cold quietly backs inside the door with a grateful heart and shuts it before anyone else notices.On the flip side, I’ve learned to make a perfectly layered dark ‘n’ stormy, baked mini cherry cheesecakes when the cookies ran out, and am digging back into the writing that’s been taunting me for weeks.
I have not exercised, but am reading books like crazy (finished Allie Larkin’s Why Can’t I be You, am totally into reading The Hobbit with the kids after years of telling David I’d never give it a chance, and am halfway through Amy Poehler’s Yes Please before I move onto Elisabeth Egan’s A Window Opens. Check that: I LOVE THE SNOW).
We’ve seen The Return of the Jedi and Chef, and totally forgot about The X-Files until last night (X-FILES!!), which hurts my 90’s-girl heart just a little bit. I’ve taught the kids that buttered popcorn topped with chocolate chips is the best movie snack in the world (I should probably revisit that not-exercising thing?).
I still have not finished potty-training the kid, and have listened to hours of Kidz Bop 30 against my will, and missed out on parties and plans and family visits. I have organized some drawers and emptied old storage boxes and have not online shopped at all, because even though there’s this one bird-themed ottoman online that would look so stinking cute in my office, I can never bring myself to hit “purchase.” I’ve had The Specials playing almost nonstop, because ska makes me think of summer (’90s girl!) and my Fitbit broke so it can’t tell me how few steps I’ve taken, and I actually might be starting to lose my mind after all.For some reason, my children have fought hardly at all, though the notice just came in that school’s cancelled tomorrow, too, so that could change on a dime.They say the best thing for mind-losing is Vitamin D (or something like that). Vitamin D, as we all know, is provided by sunlight, which is pouring in copious amounts all over the neighborhood. Which means I might have to go outside in the stuff after all to do some of that exercise thing or play with my poor mother-deprived children or give the dog a walk, since right now she’s staring outside like she’s been locked in a cage for days with weeks-old Brussels sprouts for food. You guys. I think it’s time to put down the darning needles and go join the world again.
Hot Chocolate Mix (from Smitten Kitchen, easily doubled)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tsp. cornstarch
- 3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Throw all ingredients into a food processor and blend until powdery. Heat milk on a stovetop over medium heat or in the microwave (about a minute and 45 seconds on High for 1 cup). Add 3 Tbs. of hot chocolate mix to the milk and whisk until dissolved. Serve topped with way too many mini-marshmallows or whipped cream.
Mini Cherry Cheesecakes (also easily doubled)
- 8 vanilla wafers or crisp chocolate cookies
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened,
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 8 maraschino cherries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners, and place one cookie in the bottom of each. Blend cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract together in a stand mixer or mixing bowl. Distribute cream cheese filling evenly among the 8 cups. Place a cherry into the middle of each (optional: drizzle a little of the cherry juice onto the tops, too). Bake for 15 minutes and cool completely.
Dark ‘n’ Stormy
- ginger beer
- dark rum
- lime wedge (plus another for garnish, optional)
Add ice to a highball glass, then fill the glass 3/4 full with ginger beer. Top with a shot of dark rum. Squeeze the juice from a wedge of lime into the top of the glass. Sip in front of a fire on a cold day and dream of summer.
Easy Manhattan (the way I make it, which is not scientific at all)
- bourbon, such as Maker’s Mark
- sweet vermouth
- maraschino cherry, plus juice
In a cup with a lid, add ice. Add 3 glugs of bourbon and one of sweet vermouth. Shake 1-2 dashes of bitters into the mixture. Place the lid on the cup and shake vigorously. Strain into a highball glass. Add the cherry and a teaspoon of cherry juice. Serve.
I keep trying to read books with Quinn. Sometimes she listens, rubbing her fingers over the characters on the pages–especially if those pages have built-in mirrors that allow her to grin at her too-adorable, two-toothed self–but mostly, to my English teacher’s chagrin, when we sit …