Sunday, August 03, 2008

summer lovin'

The title of this post might suggest some kind of torrid romantic tryst in a tropical location, but... (surprise!) it involves books, food, and other stuff that I'm currently lovin'.

1. Any and all orange-type teas from Celestial Seasonings. I know, tea in summer in Texas? My rationale behind it is two-fold. First, dh must turn on all fans, ceiling and otherwise, every night, in addition to using the a/c. Brrrrrr. Also, I just finished reading the Ladies #1 Detective Agency series, the events in which seem to occur in between the brewing and drinking of something called "bush tea." Food in books always produces acute cravings for me (reading Chang Rae Lee was difficult, as I'm not much of a korean cook).

2. Now on to books. I borrowed Ladies #1 Detective Agency from my mom, thinking from the title that it would be some vaguely Miss Marpleish detective novel involving country tweeds, aging nobility, and possibly cats. I was pleasantly surprised that it takes place in Africa, is quite funny, not at all gory, and has 6 sequels!

Not to imply that I don't enjoy books set in England; I most fervently do. I just finished The Ladies of Grace Adieu. I had to include the cover photo because it is so pretty. I love morning glories. The book is full of beautiful art nouveau illustrations and design. I tried to read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell but it was almost too rich, like a chocolate cake with very heavy, sugary frosting. Just too much. The Ladies of Grace Adieu lets the reader sample the wonderful imagination and style of Susanna Clarke without the sugar rush.

3. Speaking of a chocolate cake sugar rush, chocolate cupcakes have been all the rage here. And no, not homemade, strictly from a box because a friend recently gave me two very large boxes of industrial cake mix (not a joke--each box makes 8 rounds). The cake is sort of sub-par, but the mix is not the normal kind -- you only use water, no eggs or oil--so I'm not sure how to doctor it. Any suggestions for a filling or some kind of alteration to make this cake mix magically delicious?

4. Shins, shins, and more shins. Probably brought on by this lil' hedgehog, now appearing on a t-shirt of mine, thanks to Linz. Just can't get enough of the odd and wonderful lyrics and Beach Boy harmony! Also the Decemberists. I have to mention here that many fantastic bands are yours to discover at Screamer Radio, a little application that lets you stream (and record) some really nice internet radio. It's organized by genre, and I recommend Radio Paradise and Soma FM.


Patty O. said...

I LOVE the No. 1 Ladies Detective series. I was pleasantly surprised by it as well. I got introduced by Kim who bought me the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series which is also very funny.

I tried reading the Grace Adieu book, but couldn't get into it. Maybe I should try again. I loved Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell...

pianogal said...

2 suggestions for your cake mix: try substituting melted ice cream thinned with a little milk for the water. (I only read about this; can't say I've tried it; sounds divine though!) Or...line a round cake pan w/plastic wrap, pour softened favorite ice cream (about 1/2 in.) into pan, freeze, then place between 2 baked cake rounds. Frost w/cool whip flavored w/a bit of extract (vanilla, peppermint, orange - whatever goes with the cake flavor) and store in the freezer. Let me know how it turns out! And thanks for the book suggestions!