Archive from May, 2011
10 May

#13: Host a dinner party – 30 before 30 list

I hosted a dinner party for six with this vegetarian Cinco de Mayo menu. Shamefully, I was too busy cooking to take photos of my food!

We started with a simple wild greens salad with a citrus vinaigrette dressing. Then I served two soups: creamy corn soup and vegetarian tortilla soup, with garnishes of tortilla strips, scallions, lime, avocado, green pepper, cilantro, pepper jack cheese and jalapeno. The corn soup is from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food cookbook and it was super runny! I’m not sure I’d make it again, but thankfully there was plenty of food to go around and great garnishes so no one seemed to notice. I don’t have a “go to” recipe for vegetarian tortilla soup since I usually use up what I happen to have, but sometimes I combine this one and this one.

I also made a “chicken” taco casserole, a special recipe from Mr. Comma Happy’s mom. It’s bad for you, but a crowd-pleaser. We had several drink choices, but I think Mexican Coke and Jarritos are the only ones worth mentioning. The perfect dessert for this menu is churros with chocolate dipping sauce (including a kick of paprika and red pepper).

Overall, a great dinner party and something I need to plan more often. Who can resist a themed dinner?

8 May

I deserve a gold star for reading 13 books in 13 weeks!

Success! This is my proudest “30 before 30” accomplishment so far. I initially thought reading 13 books in 13 weeks would be a breeze, but it was quite the commitment, make that a 4,284 page commitment!

Luckily I had a vacation on my side where I was able to knock out a whopping five books. In all, I read an average 50 pages a day for three months. Here is my reading list with a thought or note about each book.

The Imperfectionist​s by Tom Rachman
A great story with deep character studies. If Tom’s writing style was less engaging, I would have considered this a slow read. However, it kept my attention and I might even call it brilliant. I really enjoyed this book!

Steve Martin writes books? Yes, yes, “Shopgirl” was a hit, I know. But coming out of this book, my biggest thought is about how one can be gifted in so many areas. Impressive.

Bossypants by Tina Fey
Tina Fey is the most hilarious human on the planet. I accidentally deleted my half-read copy of Bossypants from my Kindle on vacation and I think the entire hotel heard my angry she-roar. Alas, I had to finish it when I got home. This book had me rolling with giggles and there are so many great quotes. One of my favorites: “By the way, when Oprah Winfrey is suggesting you may have overextended yourself, you need to examine your fucking life.” Oh, I heart Tina Fey.

The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death by Laurie Notaro
Meh. Either I’m getting old, or Laurie Notaro is just not as funny as she used to be.

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Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
While aspects of the characters exist in all of us, the train wreck of self-indulgence was a little hard to take for nearly 600 pages, or 24 hours, since I got the audiobook for free on Audible. The first half was pretty good but then it went on and on and became unbelievable … and then I got to the point where I didn’t even care if it was believable because I just wanted it to be over. I wasted a day of my life on the book (granted it was spread out over a month during my commute, but still).

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Now if there was ever an exceptional audiobook, this is it! A truly enjoyable listen and a great, mesmerizing story.

The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck
A classic that manages to still feel contemporary. This is easily now one of my favorite books and I’m going to take another trip down Steinbeck lane.

Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson
I finished reading the “Three Cups of Tea” follow up just a few weeks before the news broke on Mortenson’s fraudulent ways. I was crushed and spent way too many hours reading news stories and Jon Krakauer’s “Three Cups of Deceit.” While Mortenson has obviously been less than honest, I would still consider his work to be a huge success if you take into account the international awareness he has generated for education and humanitarian efforts in the Middle East. Such a sad tale.

I already did a recap post about this book, where I called it magical. I’m still thinking about it.

5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth by Matthew Inman
A jolly good read with classic “the Oatmeal” humor.

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
I went to a reading/talk by Joshua Ferris at Bumbershoot a few years back but hadn’t actually read his book. While it’s an interesting story and look at a moment in time (the dot-com era), it just seems weird given the current financial crisis, recession and sweeping layoffs. A fine read, but a little depressing.

One of my favorite recent novels. It was a wild tale of a ride! Reminded me somewhat of a mashup in style between Steve Toltz’ “A Fraction of the Whole” and Yann Martel or Khaled Hosseini.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Hurray, hurray for Malcolm Gladwell and my favorite genre of armchair economics.

So that’s it. It has been an inspiring 13 weeks. Reading (almost anything) puts so many great ideas in my head; now it’s time for them to simmer. And I should probably start looking for pennies to pay off my library fines.
2 May

10 Things Loved in April

All 10 things loved in April revolved around my trip to Maui!

So here goes:

  1. Snorkeling every day
  2. Staying at the Westin
  3. Trying standup paddle boarding for the first time
  4. Eating at Star Noodle
  5. Ono Gelato
  6. Sunsets with my mister
  7. Breakfast at the Kihei Caffe
  8. Driving around the entire island – a figure eight
  9. Our first couples vacation – was not weird at all. Besties rock!
  10. Butterfish