Sep 072015

Header illustration for cook the collection projectThis project is well-intentioned but boy is it slow. All this time and I’m just on the tenth book – that’s kind of ridiculous. I’ve got this dead wood of not-great cookbooks hanging over me that I would like to pare from my collection, but I feel I should cook at least one thing from each before I do.

The Fondue CookbookThe thing is, there are cookbooks that have great, accessible recipes, and there are cookbooks that have luscious, aspirational photographs and head notes, and a few treasured cookbooks have both. Then there are the cookbooks that might not be so great but they’re meaningful in some way (for instance I like to bring back a cookbook as a souvenir when I travel), and the books that are family heirlooms. Another group of cookbooks are the workhorses of the collection – the reference and technique books and the general books that get turned to over and over again. Finally, there’s a large group of books that have marginal recipes, poor illustrations and uninspired writing. These are my bane! These are the books that I want to toss into the recycle bin (or at least the donation box at the local library).recipe page from The Fondue Cookbook

The Fondue Cookbook, however, is not one of those dreary books. This book is a specialty book for sure – we got it as a wedding gift along with a fondue pot (and no I was not married in the 70’s, surprisingly) – and it is full of fondue recipes and nothing else. The very first recipe, for traditional cheese fondue, is a solid recipe that gives great results. This is my go-to cheese fondue recipe, and when my daughter asked if we could have fondue the other day, it’s the one I turned to. Later this month I’ve promised the kids we’ll make chocolate fondue, and I’m sure I’ll turn to this book again.

Jul 082015
I don't feel comfortable unless I've got a book backlog - these books are waiting on my night table, and I've got another virtual stack in my kindle

I don’t feel comfortable unless I’ve got a book backlog – these books are waiting on my night table, and I’ve got another virtual stack in my kindle

So half the year is done (wha. . . ?) and I’m taking a look back at how I did towards my goal of reading 52 books in 2015 (one a week on average). I managed to read 20 books, which is respectable but puts me behind for the second half of the year – I’ll have to average 1.2 books per week for the rest of the year in order to make my goal. I made more of an effort to read than I might have without trying to hit 52 so that’s positive. I also helped start a book club and we had our first meeting after reading Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder. I have to say I didn’t love the book but I really enjoyed the discussion we had about it, and I’m looking forward to hosting our next meeting this month!

Looking over my list, I’ve managed quite a mix of genres from both fiction (14 books) and non-fiction (6 books). The fiction books were almost entirely sci-fi and thrillers, although one of my favorite reads was decidedly chick-lit. The non-fiction was more of a mix of memoir and historical novels. I decided to come up with a top 5 list from the first half of the year, which was harder than I thought it might be since I really liked a lot of these books.

1.The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins. Wow this was a great thriller – I really didn’t guess any of the twists beforehand which is totally satisfying. One of those books that pulls you right along and is almost impossible to put down – sorry family!

2.The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan. This chick-lit novel is written by the Fug Girls and has just the right mix of flirty gossip, fun fashion and a kicky storyline. It’s nothing deep but it was a great summer read for sure.

3.The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir. Anything that’s soon to be a major motion picture starring Matt Damon is probably pretty good, and The Martian is no exception. It’s a fun read, full of great inner dialogue as the main character figures out how to save himself from quite a jam. I think it’ll be a great movie – in fact as soon as I finished the book I went online to see if it would be made.

4.The Book of Strange New Things: A Novel by Michel Faber. This novel seems at first to be a straightforward sci-fi story about colonists on a distant planet, but I soon realized it was more the story of a husband and wife negotiating the shifting terrain of their marriage, and its conclusion is devastating yet hopeful. I was deeply surprised by this book – it was much more than I thought it would be.

5.Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo by Matthew Amster-Burton. I’ve always enjoyed the author’s writing, especially his first book “Hungry Monkey” about cooking for and with his young daughter. They’re from Seattle and his daughter is just about V’s age so that adds a layer of interest for me, and I love traveling with my kids, so reading about his travels with his daughter was great. This book is part travel memoir and part travel guide with a lot of Japanese food history thrown in as well. I was ready to book a trip to Tokyo when I finished!

Now it’s on to the next half of the year – got any suggestions for a book I’ve just got to read? I’d love to hear it!

I’m sharing this post at some of these great link parties – check ’em out! Also, some of the links above are affiliate links, which means if you purchase via the link this website will receive a small percentage of the sale, and we’ll be eternally grateful!

May 292015
Seattle Art Museum - photo by David Herrera

Seattle Art Museum – photo by David Herrera

Summer is almost here, and with it comes the chance to visit some of our region’s many great museums. The Seattle area is full of museums, from big to small, covering a wide range of subjects or just one in great detail. Take some time to check out this list – maybe you’ll be reminded of an old favorite or find somewhere new to explore! Something to remember is many of these museums offer free admission on the first Thursday of each month – check the websites for details, but do know they’ll be much busier on these free days.

Transportation Museums

Museum of Flight | Seattle

Future of Flight Museum and Boeing Factory Tour | Mukilteo

Flying Heritage Collection | Everett

McChord Air Museum at Joint Base Lewis-McChord | Tacoma

Olympic Flight Museum | Olympia

LeMay America’s Car Museum | Tacoma

Northwest Railway Museum | Snoqualmie

Bellingham Railway Museum | Bellingham

Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center | Seattle

Bellingham Maritime Museum | Bellingham

Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum | Kent

Foss Waterway Seaport | Tacoma

Puget Sound Navy Museum | Bremerton

Naval Undersea Museum | Keyport

Children’s Museums

Seattle Children’s Museum | Seattle

KidsQuest Museum | Bellevue

Imagine Children’s Museum | Everett

Children’s Museum of Tacoma | Tacoma

Children’s Museum of Skagit County | Burlington

Kids Discovery Museum | Bainbridge Island

Hands On Children’s Museum | Olympia

Discovery Village | Gig Harbor

Art Museums

Seattle Art Museum | Seattle

Henry Art Gallery | Seattle

Frye Art Museum | Seattle

Bellevue Arts Museum | Bellevue

Museum of Glass | Tacoma

Tacoma Art Museum | Tacoma

Chihuly Garden and Glass | Seattle

Whatcom Museum | Bellingham

Science & History Museums

Pacific Science Center | Seattle

Burke Museum | Seattle

Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) | Seattle

Experience Music Project Museum | Seattle

Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park | Seattle

Last Resort Fire Department Museum | Seattle

Washington State History Museum | Tacoma

SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention | Bellingham

Camlann Medieval Village | Carnation

Pioneer Farm Museum | Eatonville

Cultural Museums

Hibulb Cultural Center | Tulalip

Native American Cultural Center for Indians of All Tribes (Daybreak Star Center) | Seattle

Nordic Heritage Museum | Seattle

Northwest African American Museum | Seattle

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience | Seattle


I’m always looking for somewhere new to explore, so if I’ve missed one of your favorite museums, drop me a comment and let me know!

 Posted by at 11:21 pm
Mar 262015
Lean and Clean Turkey Burger {Recipe}

These lean and clean turkey burgers and heavy in our dinner rotation lately. Right now my kids are obsessed with “make your own” dinners. Make your own tacos, make your own pizza, and make your own burgers – basically anything that they get to assemble on their own is a hit. We have “make your […]

Mar 202015
Make Your Own Canvas Beach Windbreak

Last summer we had a marvelous two week beach vacation planned at one of my very favorite spots to visit – Cannon Beach, Oregon. It’s a dreamy beach, miles long and extra wide so there’s plenty of room for walking, running, flying kites or building sandcastles. The only drawback is that it can get windy […]

Jan 152015
Manila Clams with Wine, Butter and Garlic

Yum, one of my favorite simple suppers is steamed Manila clams with white wine, butter, garlic and shallots. It’s so easy you don’t even really need a recipe, although I’ve got one for you. This meal manages to be unfussy yet elegant at the same time, which is often just what we need at our […]

Jan 072015
Super Sweet New Year's Gifts

I made homemade caramels and marshmallows for holiday gifts and they turned out so delicious that I really needed to come up with some pretty packaging to compliment them. I started out with some cardboard boxes that are usually used as disposable baking pans. Next I added some decorative cupcake liners and nestled the caramels […]

Dec 272014
Homemade Caramels and Marshmallows

I love making homemade gifts for Christmas – some years almost everything I gift is homemade and some years it’s only a little token. This year I’ve got a serious sweet tooth going on so I had to try my hand at marshmallows and caramels. First up were the marshmallows – I have had the […]