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How I Read Three More Books in 2013

28 December 2013

I have discovered that Paul Torday is a fantastic storyteller. I watched his movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen without reading the book, and now I wish I had read it first. His book More Than You Can Say was intriguing and very different than Salmon Fishing, and the rest of his books, as far as I can tell from the blurbs on the back, are similarly varied in topic/subject.

I also finished off the last of John Green’s published books, The Fault in Our Stars, and enjoyed it very much. But my favourite of the three has to be 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith. I have seen many of the books in Smith’s series about the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, but have never read those out of disinterest. When I found 44 Scotland Street on the shelf at my local library, I read the back blurb and it sucked me in right away. This is the first in a series as well — all about the jumble of characters living in one apartment building — and I definitely am excited to read the rest. What is especially interesting about this book is that it was first published as a serialised novel in a newspaper, with daily installments. I think this gave it an unusual momentum that many books lack.

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How I Learned That Beans Take a Loooooong Time to Cook

18 November 2013

It was 11:30 AM. I was hungry. I had all the ingredients for a delicious-looking salad I found on Pinterest. The preparation time for the salad said “eight minutes.” Eight minutes! I can handle that!

It said eight minutes because it called for already-chopped onion and already-cut strawberries. Whatever, I can handle that. Only takes a couple minutes to chop those.

It said eight minutes because it called for canned black beans. All I had to do was open the can, drain the beans, and pour them into the bowl. I knew this, and I had planned ahead with my dry beans. I had them soaking in the refrigerator overnight.

What I didn’t plan was the cooking time. Who knew that even with pre-soaked beans, it takes roughly one and a half hours to cook?!?!?!?!??? Not me. It’s now 1:14 PM, and I’m still waiting for my lunch. Here’s what it looks like now:

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Here’s what it will look like when it’s done:

I hope mine tastes as good as this one looks. At least now I know to cook my beans ahead of time…

Strawberry & Black Bean Salad

Strawberry & Black Bean Salad –    Recipe & Photo by An Edible Mosaic

 

How I Read Paper Towns by John Green

14 November 2013

Yet another two-day book, Paper Towns by John Green was a paper-townssimple, straightforward read. I was curious to discover the motivations behind a certain character’s disappearance, but I felt like I should have read this book in middle school rather than as an adult. This isn’t due to the characters’ ages (high school seniors) but due to the style and level of writing as well as the content. That being said, I did appreciate the book’s theme of perceiving people as bigger or more idealistic (and less human) than they really are. Good book, John Green, but not your best. (In case you’re wondering, An Abundance of Katherines and Looking for Alaska were your best–but I haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars yet.)

How I Read Another Book in 2013

7 November 2013

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This week–actually, over just two days–I read The Expats by Chris Pavone. I don’t read mysteries as often as I should, because I always love them. This novel might not technically be classified as a mystery–who classifies books anyway?–but it kept me trying to figure out what was going on, what the secrets were, and who was involved with what crime the entire time. I’m excited to find that his next book is coming out next March.

It was so comforting to bury myself in a book again. Since I have been back in Perth I haven’t felt settled, and am looking for some project or mission to work on while I am jobless. I like to have something to work towards, to focus on. Reading has given me a small focus, but I don’t want to spend all of my non-job-applying time reading. I want to work my brain more than that. I also started a jigsaw puzzle, which has helped. I’d like my next project to be creating something–should I give myself a photo assignment? Writing assignment? Should I try something new and make some paintings or drawings?

How I still don’t have a job

7 November 2013

In the past four weeks, I have applied for 48 jobs. I have received two positive responses, neither of which has led me to a job yet.

Keep your fingers crossed.

The people who say “applying to jobs is a full-time job” are right. I spend at least thirty minutes on each application, sometimes as much as an hour and a half. There’s no point in sending in a mediocre resume or a cover letter that doesn’t address the specific job being advertised or the selection criteria they require. And then there’s the time spent searching, reading pages full of job advertisements, most of which don’t suit you and your skill set. It’s a tiresome job.

And it’s exasperating when companies don’t respond to your application. Most of them don’t, not even to send a polite “thanks but no thanks” email to let you know they’ve filled the position.

However, the few-and-far-between moments where you feel that little glimmer of excitement as you read a job advertisement that sounds so perfect for you, you wonder how the stars have aligned so that you’re unemployed and looking at the exact moment this company decided to post this perfect-for-you role, and what a great opportunity this will be and you’ll get to do things you’ve always dreamed about, and and and–

It’s those moments that are my motivation for applying. For the one moment when my application to one of those perfect-for-me jobs gets noticed and I get a positive reply.

 

How I Read Two More Books in 2013

2 October 2013

In the past two weeks I read The Alphabet Sisters by Monica McInerney and Arranged by Catherine McKenzie.

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Both were good, but I have to rave about The Alphabet Sisters. I’ve read two other novels by Monica McInerney, and this was by far my favourite, for the detail and combination of its characters. Arranged was interesting, because it was about a modern arranged marriage, but I wasn’t as attached to the characters. It did keep me reading right through to the end, though! They both did.

Next up, two new picks from the library this afternoon. Stay tuned!

How My Sister’s Bridal Shower Turned Out to Be Perfect

1 October 2013

table settingsLast Saturday was my sister’s bridal shower. It was perfect. We planned for months, first from afar as I was in Australia and the rest of the bridesmaids were in Pennsylvania, then all together once I joined them here. We spent the week leading up to the shower in full-blown preparation mode,finalizing rental orders, table borrowing, decoration making, and cooking and baking. Then two days before the shower, something threw off the plans–but only slightly. We were holding the shower at a friend of the family’s house, and she was admitted to the hospital. She would be fine, but we couldn’t hold the party at her house. It was a quick fix–we moved the shower to one of the bridesmaids’ parents’ house, where my sister spent a lot of time as a child. It was a fitting location, and we didn’t need to do anything different other than notify the guests of the change. The rest of the plans for the shower would still work at the new location.

We spent the afternoon before the shower making food and decorations, cleaning the house, and beginning to set up. The tent was delivered, and tables were put in place. The next day, we started setting up at 9 in the morning. The shower was at 12. We timed it perfectly. At 11:15, we had about 40 minutes’ worth of preparation left to do. Then it happened.

A huge gust of wind blew, knocking over half of the flower vases, dumping the water all over the tablecloths and sending the napkins and plates flying across the yard. At the same time, one of the tent poles collapsed, leaving a corner of the tent flapping dangerously close to the tables. Arrrggggggghhhhhhhhhh!

After a brief moment of panic, I pretended I thought everything would be fine. (At that moment, I didn’t believe it.) I called The Party Center. “You set up a tent for us yesterday and one of the tent poles just collapsed and I think the pole is rotten and our party is in thirty minutes!” Two guys were at the house within ten minutes with a new, non-rotted tent pole. They fixed the corner that fell, and checked all the other poles and tightened all the lines.

When I hung up from telling the Party Center what happened, I tried to figure out what to do about the tablecloths. Three of cookies and pancakesthem were sopping wet, as were the few napkins and plates that didn’t blow away. We had rented just enough linen tablecloths for the tables we had, but thankfully had rented a few extra napkins, so at least we could swap out the wet ones of those. The best solution I could come up with for the tablecloths was to take the tablecloths from the food buffet tables to replace the wet ones on the eating tables, and either leave the buffet tables uncovered or find whatever we could in the house to cover them. Thankfully again, candybaranother bridesmaid’s dad (whose house we were at) saw that the tablecloths were all wet on one half only, and that the sun was shining brightly on the other half of the tables. So we un-set the three tables, turned the tablecloths around so the wet sides were now directly in the sun, and re-set the tables. We dried off the wet plates, swapped the wet napkins for dry ones, and re-arranged the flowers in their vases–now with even more water in them, to hopefully stand strong against another gust of wind.

cupcakesAll of this happened before 12, and we even had time to change into our dresses before the first guests arrived. By the time the guest of honor arrived at 12:15, the place looked like nothing had happened. All the food was out, the tables were set (and dry!), and the panic had eased off our faces. The rest of the day was a success. Food was eaten, punch was drunk, games were played, gifts were opened, laughs were had, hugs were given, pictures were taken. And the bride loved it.

 

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