A night with Paula McLain

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Hello friends,

It's no secret that I'm an avid reader and enthusiast of the industry. Sadly, I hardly take advantage of living so close to NYC and all of the social events available to me. So....

A few months ago, while watching a movie with my iPad in my lap (catching up on all things social media), I read a post from a friend mentioning that Paula McLain was coming to NYC.  She was publishing a new novel, and I had not been in the city in a few months, so I bought a ticket that night.

I have read Circling the Sun and The Paris Wife, giving both four stars on goodreads. Paula McLain is a historical fiction novelist who fills her stories with facts!  

Showing up looking like a wet noodle

As luck would have it, I took the 3:40 train into the city, a local.  This meant it would take 70 minutes vs. 50 on the express, gifting me time to make a call, relax and enjoy a leisurely trip.  It was nice to sit after a busy weekend.

The forecast called for a brief rain shower around 7 PM so I was surprised to see rain minutes before arriving at Penn Station. I bought an umbrella for $5 and walked up the stairs to the start my walk.  Uber and taxies were in high demand, and I enjoy walking, but this ended up leaving me feeling like a wet noodle by the time I arrived at Random House.  Oh, how the wind swirls up the avenue!

These are my people... While I was a few minutes late to the happy hour, Nicole arrived in time to secure a table up front. Thank you, my friend! I settled in with a glass of wine and jumped into the conversation.  The other women at our table were delightful - we all love books and travel.  

Paula is one of the most outgoing author's I have met, making for easy exchange with the moderator.  Storytelling a clear gift.  After spending just five minutes with her, it's clear she loves Hemingway.  Love and Ruin is her second novel with the great author, both told from a woman's perspective.  While I know he had several wives, I was not familiar with Martha Gellhorn.  I'm curious and can't wait to learn more about this amazing woman.

 Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway. Havana Harbor, Cuba

Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway. Havana Harbor, Cuba

As a young woman, Martha Gellhorn moved to Paris with two suitcases, a typewriter, and $75, as her literary heroes Hemingway and Fitzgerald had done.

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Synopsis: In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in devastating conflict. She also finds herself unexpectedly—and uncontrollably—falling in love with Hemingway, a man already on his way to becoming a legend.

In the shadow of the impending Second World War, and set against the tumultuous backdrops of Madrid, Finland, China, Key West, and especially Cuba, where Martha and Ernest make their home, their relationship and professional careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must make a choice: surrender to the confining demands of being a famous man’s wife or risk losing Ernest by forging a path as her own woman and writer. It is a dilemma that will force her to break his heart, and her own.

NOTE: Take a few minutes to explore the author's website as a companion to the novel.  


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A bonus to my evening, I reconnected with a friend and made new connections.  Many know Nicole, a fellow book reviewer, and podcaster, she is one of two editors/publishers of The Readerly.  I find myself listening to her podcast while walking the dog, stopping to send her a text about a book she just mentioned. ;)

I started reading Love and Ruin yesterday. Fully engrossed, I read fourteen chapters without looking up.  

Summer reading season has started.  What's on your list to read this summer? I'm always looking for books to add to my list, and have a few trips planned over the summer. 

Crafting a Patterned Home: a book review

Crafting a Patterned Home: a book review

Hello Friends!

Art and design are my first true loves.  I was practically raised in museums, going to art auctions, and spending hours upon hours in a local design studio that sold fine furniture.  Gabberts was my home away from home, at age ten.  Take a walk through my home and you will find an eclectic mix of high end, local, handmade, and DIY with a sprinkle of IKEA/Target accessories.

Roost Books publish lifestyle books that aim to inspire. Spend a few minutes on their website and you will see that I fit into their target audience. I recently learned that their headquarters is in Boulder, a city I visit annually.  Hopefully I will be able to stop in and visit next summer.

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Turkish Delight on a Moonlit Night

Turkish Delight on a Moonlit Night

We traveled to Nepal via Istanbul in October, our first time back since 2013. Oh, how this place has changed.

The photo above is the location of one of our top five travel stories, which happened on Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Street). An unplanned moment that most can't believe we experienced.  

I will never forget Bill telling me that he couldn't wait for me to experience Istanbul. The contrasts of Istanbul are disruptive but strikingly intriguing. Palaces and mosques in random neighborhoods, stray cats wander the alleys of the most beautiful sights, and the voices of the morning prayers chant through empty pathways trimmed with the trash of the food merchant's shops of a busy yesterday.

Welcome to the Orient!

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And the winner is...

And the winner is...

Crisp evenings turn to snowy days, inspiring warm, homemade meals. That's what I think of when I hear the word Chili. 

I remember the day I was introduced to Chili like it was yesterday.  I was a senior in high school - at a friends house.  The father was making a batch on the stove, filled with hamburger I had to wait another decade before trying this dish for the first time.

Much like the avocado, which I didn't try until 2006, I have been enjoying Chili on occasion ever since. 

I am a consumer of other creatives originals.  From knitting patterns to recipes.  Sometime over the last few months I stumbled on  Under a Tin Roof when they were moving from one place to another, and happened to be giving a live property tour on Instagram.  I adore everything about this mother/daughter duo.  The honesty and openness of sharing their daily life: learning new land, creating a CSA, decorating a home, crafting and creating meals from produce they grew, harvested and stored.

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The perfect dessert for a winter dinner

The perfect dessert for a winter dinner

Last fall I told our son that while old fashion, I wanted a Bundt Pan.  I had been listening to an interview about Nordicware, the company, and thought it might be a nice addition for last minute dinner parties. I'm thrilled to tell you that he gave me one for Christmas. 

Growing up in Minnesota, I'm familiar with the company but have had no need for a Bundt Pan, just one of the many products they make. What I didn't know was that the Bundt pan was invented by David Dalquist in 1950, the co-founder of Nordicware. While not important to juggling professional commitments with midweek entertaining... it's a fun fact worth sharing. 

In the baking community, Bundt's are having a moment.  It's likely a second, or third round of popularity and I'm happy to join the fun!  Over ten days in January we hosted three dinner parties, creating the perfect opportunity to try making a Bundt.  

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I read SO many wonderful books in 2017

I read SO many wonderful books in 2017

It's a snowy day here in northern New Jersey. My calendar is full of meetings, or I would be curled up on the sofa with a book, or maybe watching a movie with a roaring fire in the fireplace.  Instead I made this Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili over lunch and will take a snowy walk before the sun sets.

I am late sharing my list of favorite books read last year, a list that is too good not share with you.   I'm thrilled to have read so many wonderful books: from historical fiction to time travel, page-turning modern fiction to books set in cemeteries.

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