Monday, January 2, 2012

blog #496 >> 2011 Books in Review

I wish I had more time to read! There are so many more books out there just waiting to be opened! But I've got a whole another year ahead of my to work on reading some more.

Listed below are my books in review:
2011 Reading List

Carlo Collodi
1/11 ***
(Such an odd little story!)

Gulliver's Travels
Jonathan Swift
1/11 ***

Jane Eyre
Chralotte Brontë
1/11 *****

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
1/11 *****

The Inferno
Dante Alighieri
2/11 **

(This book wasn't actually even worth reading. It was just page after page of pain and despair... What's this page about? Well, it's about despair. And the next one? Um, it's about despair too.... despair, despair, despair. I was going to read the entire "Divine Comedy," but "The Inferno" didn't make me want to read any more of it.)

The House of Seven Gables
Nathaniel Hawthorne
2/11 *****
(I've never read anything I didn't like by Nathaniel Hawthorne, but this is my favorite of his books so far.)

Vanity Fair
William Makepeace Thackeray
4/11 *****

Lady Susan
Jane Austen
5/11 ***
(While"Persuasion" is my favorite of the Jane Austen novels, "Lady Susan" is my least favorite. What a hussy!?!?!")

And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie
5/11 *****

4:50 From Paddington
Agatha Christie
5/11 *****

The Little Prince
Antoine De Saint-Exupery
5/11 *****

The Body in the Library
Agatha Christie
5/11 ****

Portrait of a President
William Manchester
6/11 ***
(Despite the fact that William Manchester is my favorite biographer, this is not his best work. His later works are definitely better!)

The Pickwick Papers
Charles Dickens
7/11 ***
(Dickens is hit or miss with me, and this one missed the mark. It's like a meandering brook that never goes anywhere!)

Miss Marple The Complete Short Stories
Agatha Christie
8/11 *****
(But oh, how I adore Miss. Marple! When I grow up I want to be just like her!)

The Catcher in the Rye
J. D. Salinger
8/11 ***

A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Madeleine L'Engle
8/11 ***

The Remains of the Day
Kazuo Ishiguro
8/11 *****

Dead Man's Mirror
Agatha Christie
8/11 ****

Wives and Daughters
Elizabeth Gaskell
9/11 *****

The Old Man and the Sea
Ernest Hemingway
9/11 ****

The Mysterious Island
Jules Verne
10/11 *****

Bram Stoker
10/11 *****
(I liked it so much more than I thought I would, but I promise this is the only book about vampires I will ever read.)

Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë
11/11 *****
(I love this book so much I read it again! ...and again, and again, and again, and again...)

The Call of the Wild
Jack London
11/11 *****

White Fang
Jack London
11/11 *****

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
11/11 *****
(I really do adore this book... a lot!)

Agnes Grey
Anne Brontë
12/11 ****

A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens

12/11 *****
(Dickens at his best! A must read each and every Christmas!)

Old Christmas
Washington Irving
12/11 ***

His Last Bow
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
12/11 *****

See 2010 Reading List Here
See 2009 Reading List Here

Sunday, January 1, 2012

blog #495 >> Merry Christmas
& A Happy New Year!

Well as usual, I've been extraordinarily busy this Christmas season, and I'm just now finding time to start blogging again. The decorations are all boxed up, waiting to be carried down to the basement, and the new year extreme cleaning regime has commenced! Why make a resolution to do something later, when it can be done now! Therefore I have been a whirlwind of dusters, rags, mops, brooms, and sponges all day! Right now the place is in that complete state of disorder and chaos that comes before the neat tidy organization, when everything is cleaned and cleared out. So, I thought this would be the perfect time to settle down for the night, and catch up on the little blog.

There have been so many things I'd like to post pictures of this month, but unfortunately, remembering to take pictures of the neat things I've made isn't always my forté. Normally, I forget. But here's a quick recap of at least a couple of the best.

For Christmas this year my family had the food theme of "Traditional British Christmas." I love that I come from a family of great cooks, and when we pool together, we can really pull off some awesome parties. Now Britain isn't exactly known for there delicious cuisine, but I have to say, everything we made was positively AMAZING! And we should all be very proud of the spread we were able to dress our table with.
Below is a copy of our Christmas Eve menu:

Cheesy Pudding
Real Eggnog
Mince Meat and Cherry Tarts
Brandy Snaps
Stuffed Tomatoes
Stuffed Mushrooms
Scones with Lemon Curd

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
Cottage Pie
Bangers and Mash (Sausages and Mashed Potatoes)
Brown Sugar Ham
Bread Sauce

Flaming Figgy Pudding
Turkish Delight
Assorted Cookies

(We even had crackers!)

The flaming pudding was especially fun, and we're all in agreement that we want more flaming desserts next year, just maybe not a figgy pudding.

Here are my ingredients for the flaming pudding. The ingredients needed to rest overnight.

Then you tie them up like so, and let them steam for eight hours. After that, they need to season for at least five weeks. They're quite good if you like raisins. Raisins are definitely the dominate flavor.

(Image below from Vintage Ads.)

And here's a shot of my sister's homemade eggnog. It's so much better than the stuff you buy at the store!

And here are a few of the pictures my three year old niece Ada took with my camera. Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos myself, so I have over 50 pictures of Christmas that look like this, and none that are very discernible. But honestly, this is a pretty accurate depiction of what Christmas looks like in the eyes of a three-year-old. Stella, (another little niece) was gathering wrapping paper into piles, and jumping into them like a heaping mound of leaves.

Best Wishes and A Happy New Year!