Abrams Dinner Party Meets My Current Reads | Ibiza
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We have been accepted into the Abrams Dinner Party line up for fall and spring 2018-2019. After the incredible snow storm that rocked the country, many of our fall and winter books arrived late, so we’re still powering through with excitement at trying new things from the beautiful new cookbooks making their way out into the world, all complimentary from Abrams. It’s been so great to explore thus far and with spring upon us, the excitement has renewed with the longer days of sunshine and warmth!

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*We were sent this book in exchange for an honest review, and of course, all opinions are wholly our own. You can see our policy right here

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Before I dive into what I made, I chose this specific recipe with a few things in mind. I’ve been a gardener for about six years now, and with so much time in learning how and when things grow in my climate, I’ve become well versed in seasonal cooking. As a way to feel more connected to the food we’re consuming, to our lives on micro levels, it’s another world entirely to learn about seasonal foods, especially when growing them yourself. One of the challenges I’ve put myself on with these cookbooks is to cook mostly from what I already have on hand, and try to follow the recipe as much as possible.

I really love Mimine’s earthy style that is represented in her cookbook, Ibiza: Land and Sea, which immediately drew me in. Initially though, I held off wanting to cook from her cookbook, because the sun drenched photos and bright red tomatoes were all I could see. I wanted summer and fresh off-the-vine toms more than anything! After further perusing, I took note of the main ingredients she uses through each course, broken up into categories, and that’s when I noticed that she had her vegetables lined up just right for the season—despite all that gorgeous sunlight pouring in through the trees. Do you think you can tell I’m from the PNW and have been stuck in a long, dark gray winter?!

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I’m really glad that we had some extra time to get to cooking from this cookbook, because spring is slowly approaching and the sun was shining when I found the recipe I wanted to try! With some leftover sugar pumpkins waiting to be roasted and a few fresh greens ready for trimming, I formulated a quick and easy meal to go with the pumpkin gnocchi recipe in Ibiza!

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After gathering fresh herbs and greens to pair with the sausage I had waiting and the gnocchi I was getting ready to cook, it was time to assemble the dish and get it “piping hot!” A dainty stem of sage and a stack of new books took us outside to set the table and soak in the last rays of sun before reluctantly pulling ourselves inside for the night.

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I’ve never made gnocchi before, and I was truly shocked at how easy, even a little fun it is to make! Also, I can see this being an incredibly versatile thing to get creative with, and I absolutely plan to. Since I had this one last sugar pumpkin left from my fall garden, I loved learning a new way to prepare it, AND this was a hit with the whole family (who might be a little tired of pumpkin and squash).

Of course, I did amp up the garlic and herbs, cooked down some fresh arugula and baby kale, added sausage, then made the sauce to pour over the gnocchi before letting the flavors cook together one final time. Mimine suggests pairing this dish with a lovely roast, but this seemed too good an opportunity to pass to make a one pot dish. It was a tasty and filling success!

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As we get closer to summer, I’m really looking forward to trying more of her recipes. Although, there is a cherry rhubarb crumble that will be perfect to try when the rhubarb comes in this spring (although, sub cherries for strawberries since they’ll be season together in my garden). I can just imagine all of the dinners outside and reading until the sun goes down.

While reading Cry of the Kalahari, I’ve been thinking a lot about seasonal living and working toward a greater purpose. It’s no surprise that I find myself working out in the garden more and more with the clear days we’ve had, but also breaking to read from time to time. This book will undoubtedly become a favorite, I’ve really been captivated by Delia Owens once again. Where the Crawdads Sing is her most recent and popular release that I also enjoyed immensely.

Thanks so much Abrams for having us as members for the dinner parties, we’re having so much fun already and look forward to the next one! Be sure to check out the first one we did and this simple weeknight dinner with a few good books!

Cheers to the Weekend 3.15.19
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*some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support

Around the web

As we wait for winter to fade into spring, we’ll be cozying up to watch these classic books on screen!

Did you guys see the Man Booker International Prize long list? Hooray for women and small presses, and it’s been a great reminder to read more books in translation!

When keeping your books on your shelves just isn’t enough, check out Elizabeth’s incredible use of her books!

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Bookworms rejoice! According to this article, we’re going to live forever! Or, a long time—maybe.

Instagram

Katie has the most creative and interesting art journals, and book stacks I love perusing.

A lovely London flat, a cozy feed, and interesting novels keep me coming back to Patrick’s feed.

All the greatest movies, books, and selfies. Rebecka is a wonderful artist, plus, we’re in love with her orange kitty!

What We’re Reading

Michaela - I’m focusing on Middlemarch this weekend and can’t wait to pick up the pace!

Rikki - I recently finished the graphic novel, Dare to Disappoint, which was fantastic and the perfect way to break up a big classic. I’m fully immersed in H is for Hawk and Middlemarch right now, both of which are lovely.

Why Rating Books Is Not As Simple As You Think
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If you’re well versed in Goodreads, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the five star rating method. There are few other systems for the masses out there, but most all of them include some numerical or star value to determine its fate. But, have you ever thought about what that simple five star rating selection means?

There are so many variables in rating a book, but the most basic level of rating comes down to personal enjoyment. That makes perfect sense, because honestly, there are just too many factors involved, and all that really matters is whether or not they’re good according to you. If you’re anything like us though, sometimes it’s a little more complicated than personal enjoyment.

Time and again we’ve found ourselves discussing the difficulty of checking off stars. For example, have you ever read a book that wasn’t exactly to your personal liking, but you fully appreciated? Seabiscuit and Stoner are some recent reads that come to mind that fit right into this category. I really enjoyed reading them and I see they are good, but they didn’t hit that personal level of enjoyment necessarily. Does that mean they lose a star, or drop a point? No! Not at all!

Have you ever looked through your list of 4 star books? Do you think that list is representative of your reading life, or of you as a person? Four stars loosely indicates that “I loved this book,” but maybe won’t classify as one of my top five favorites necessarily. Seabiscuit is impeccably researched and beautifully written, but also a little dense because its main topic. The development of automobiles in our country is synonymous with the birth of horse racing, and is an incredible piece of history to read. I truly loved it and have found myself retelling pieces of the history I’ve learned from it. Yet, it wasn’t quite as immersive as I’d hoped and not one I’d recommend to just anyone. Stoner was a meticulously written American classic with the most flawless structure and effortless prose I’ve seen to date. Yet, the story was a little strange and left me feeling flustered, wondering why certain things happened, rooting for the good guy and never really seeing him win. In their own right, those are five star books. You see how this can get a little complicated?

Compare those with Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, and Tartt’s The Secret History. They were all five star books between the two of us, and hit all the personal enjoyment levels, beautiful writing, and atmosphere we yearn for. But it isn’t really fair to compare any of these books, because how can you put such complex concepts into a box, albeit a very alluring and simple one, and ultimately define it? Well, we do, but really, you cannot, there is just so much to consider!

Books are products of people, of brilliant and beautiful minds, of art and experience and time—so much time. We instantly divide them into subcategories via genres, age appropriateness, and so on. Yet, these books are genuine extensions of people and their collective experience, lives, and most inner selves. At this point you might be wondering what the point of all this is, and well, it’s just to encourage you to think a little more about the value of the book you’ve just finished, before hitting that star rating and determining the book’s fate. Sometimes it will be just that easy, other times it will feel impossible. Over the last year, I’ve actually not rated books more times than not, and other times I’ll go back to it once I’ve had time to process it all.

If spreadsheets are your thing, maybe deeming a book worthwhile will do the trick, or maybe just bad, good, or really good. The thing is, the dichotomy between literature and reviews, or ratings, is increasingly large and complicated. I’ll never be the spreadsheet time. I need simple and effective, and I’ll keep using my beloved Goodreads to keep track of it all for me, at least for now. I would love to hear what works for you if you move beyond the box and expand your thinking, so be sure to comment below!

Rikki Rivera Comment
Cheers to the Weekend 3.08.19
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Around the web

We love a well narrated audiobook, and this list has some great ones read by celebrities.

Family novels that span generations and countries can be so good to get lost in. Most of these are on my immediate TBR, and two of them are favorites! Have you read any?

100 of the most read novels of all time, according this leading library! So many brilliant classics!

Love letters between a beloved poet and an adoring woman. Downloading the book to my kindle right now!

The women’s prize for fiction 2019 longest is live! One of these was a buddy read and dinner party last summer.

We are utterly thrilled with these classics turning into films. It’s a perfect time to re-read some of these in anticipation!

Instagram

A wonderfully creative feed with a fun film vibe, quotes, and a wide array of books.

Sofie has an excellent eye for color and simplicity in her literary life.

The perfect mix of books and personal imagery that has me wondering what Nerea will post next!

What We’re Reading

Michaela - Middlemarch has stolen my heart, so I’m focused on that, but I’m also finishing off The Hours, which I knewwwww I needed in my life after reading Mrs. Dalloway this past December!

Rikki - A fun read I’m sort of enjoying right now is How to Find Love in a Bookshop, while also reading H is for Hawk, and Middlemarch for our buddy read.

A Literary Weekend in Portland
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We’ve been talking for an embarrassingly long time about going on a day trip to Portland. Mostly, to visit the beloved Powell’s together, drink coffee, and walk the city. We finally made it happen this past weekend and it was everything we hoped it would be. We drove the two hours south and crossed over the Oregon border, finding our way to local places for good food, books, coffee, and cocktails—you know, the necessities.

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I’m a little sad to say that having gotten so caught up in the hunt for books that have long been on our collective wishlists, we didn’t take nearly as many photos of our excursion as intended. However, we fully embraced the moment while scouring Powell’s shelves, and had the best time together. We could’ve stayed there all day long, but after many, many hours, we needed sustenance.

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We had lunch before Powell’s, then found an exceptional coffee place immediately after. We talked over the books we found and current reads, exciting reminiscing about how much fun we had just moments ago. Books are one of the best ways to connect, to talk, to get you out and explore. As they say, book people are the best people, and we’re never disappointed.

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When visiting Powell’s, we highly recommend checking out the staff sections, the end caps that spotlight genres for dedicated themes, and you can’t miss the rare book room! There are so many gems in there, but it’s also a moment to slow down and find an even deeper appreciation for the books and history we love so much.

If you’re taking a trip to any major bookstore, we found that having an actual list came in most handy! We each collect specific editions of books and when we come across them out in the world, it’s so much more fun than ordering online. Plus, supporting local bookstores is kind of our jam. Believe it or not, we’re very selective about purchasing books and want to ensure that we’re proud of our bookshelves at home. Our home filled with favorite books and beautiful editions is what makes our hearts soar. Corny, but true.

Here are a few of the phone snapshots from along the way…

Cheers to the Weekend 3.01.19
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Around the web

The beauty and humanity only seen in small businesses, like this article about a California bookstore owner, is a reassuring sign of the good in the world.

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Re-reading stories we read as a kid, and what they teach us about the adults we are now.

Instagram

Kelsey makes me want to read every book she talks about. It’s a subtle yet endless love letter to all the books she reads.

All the pretty coffee and all the pretty books, and insightful captions bring it all together.

Steven teaches me about so many new and different books, often with heavier, but compelling stories.

What We’re Reading

Michaela - I’m planning to kick off March with Middlemarch, and I can’t wait!

Rikki - I got sidetracked with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and am now moving onto some non-fiction, Bread & Wine and Present Over Perfect.

Wrap Up | February 2019
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*some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support

Michaela

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle | Stuart Turton- This was an A+ concept with a C- execution. My IRL book club’s pick this month, and the ONLY book I managed to finish this month because, life, and it was solidly mediocre. Sob. It’s large cast of characters was a burden instead of a boon, and a concept that had so much potential quickly got repetitive and dull. I had to slog my way through most of it, and it’s been a couple weeks since I read it now, and I’m finding that it’s highly forgettable. Never a good thing.

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Rikki

We Were the Mulvaneys | Joyce Carol Oates - I was book shopping with my mom a few years ago, she saw this book and said she loved; so I bought it and planned to read it some day. Well, that day has come, and as everyone told me, this book will tear your heart open again and again and again. It’s beautifully written, I’ll give it that— and you really felt the family, each person, and their individual trials. I hate to think how real their story is for people, but I know it’s true. The ending wrapped up nicely, and honestly, this is a story that can get away with it, in fact, it NEEDS it. I’ll be spending a bit more time unpacking this one.

A Spark of Light | Jodi Picoult - Initially I thought this to be like other stories that open with the hook then take you back to the beginning to fill in the rest of the story before and circling back around. But no, this story literally rewinds; one minute you’re reading a woman is dead, then on the next page, she’s alive and we’re learning about her life. I can’t say I cared at all for this book. The strong political tones on abortion are loud and clear, but she did well at keeping it balanced and mixing it into the actual story. All the same, it left a lot to be desired.

An American Marriage | Tayari Jones - This book had so much hype that when I saw a copy up for grabs at the library, I grabbed it up. It’s an enticing novel with great character development, but I felt like this book was nothing extraordinary. My heart breaks that the concept of the main plot happens to men of all kinds far too often. And you guys, I hated the end! The last page ends with hope, then the epilogue rips it all away through letters, that if you’re looking at it realistically, would never have actually been written.

The Idiot | Elif Batuman - Such a strange tale, I had some trouble seeing through, or understanding, the obscure nonsensical thoughts of Selin. She seemed faceless all the while and you’re hoping to get to a main point or climax, but it doesn’t. Too late I realized it’s more like reading her diary, all from a very intimate first person perspective, an inner dialogue. With that said, I did enjoy this book; literary references and talks of Harvard classes are enjoyable for me. It ended with her summer of teaching in Hungary, and that was probably the most action-packed part of the book, and you finally see Selin gain some personality.

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn | Betty Smith - Another book my mom recommended years ago, and I’m so happy I finally read it! I just couldn’t put it down. I don’t always care for coming-of-age stories, but this one is worth it every step of the way. I can’t wait to reread this someday, even more, to pass it on to my daughter. You’ll surely feel your heart break and go back together again, feel alive, and love your babies a little more. What a story!

If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller | Italo Calvino - All the promise of a strange, interesting tale held up in this book. I loved it for some time, but found myself growing impatient at the redundancy that inevitably crept in. The stories within the story were an exciting shift, but if you’re anxious to see the plot move along, you’ll be halted at each interlude. I’d love to read this again with more patience, and knowing better what I’m getting into, I think I’d enjoy it even more. Still, a solidly excellent book!

What was the best book YOU read this month?

Cheers to the Weekend 2.22.19
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Around the web

An excellent list of classics to read this weekend. Many new-to-me titles I’m picking up at the library today!

This article explores the ability to artificially recreate, or even finish, art and literary works already done or started by the respective artists. This is fascinating since I’m well into the middle of this novel!

This is a fascinating interview on the new book Last Boat Out Of Shanghai, and the author’s family’s escape from China.

Out-of-print books by women to add to your treasure hunting list!

The Center for Fiction is making a come back, and includes so many concepts of the literary community I hadn’t though of before.

Instagram

This new bookstagrammer has a bright feed that is pulling us out of our winter blues.

Fellow PNW fantasy reader, we’re digging Mia’s mix of indoor and outdoor literary vibes.

Rhea has beautiful classics and thoughtful, often insightful captions we enjoy.

What We’re Reading

Michaela - Moving is all consuming, and I’m just dreaming of diving back into my current reads: The Dream Thieves, A Brightness Long Ago, and Hey, Kiddo.

Rikki - American Marriage is consuming my time at the moment, along with finishing The Idiot, I hope this weekend!

Abrams Dinner Party Meets My Current Reads
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We have been accepted into the Abrams Dinner Party line up for fall and spring 2018-2019. We are pretty excited to get to extend our skills a bit further into something a little different from our usual dinner parties. With a variety of cookbooks sent to us from Abrams books, we get to explore an endless amount of new recipes and put them into action.

*We were sent this book in exchange for an honest review, and of course, all opinions are wholly our own. You can see our policy right here

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To keep things simple and fun, we amped up our usual weeknight dinner with a cauliflower pepperoni pizza from the marvelous cookbook, Cali’flour Kitchen by Amy Lacey. There are an abundance of fun recipes to transfer any previously loved grain dish into a cauliflower one. It can sound a little weird, but it’s really fun to try. I’m not a full convert here, but there are some great new ways to use cauliflower that I’m looking forward to exploring.

In all honesty, the one thing I was looking forward to the most in this cookbook, was different ways to cook cauliflower as a vegetable. I once found this vegetarian cookbook that showed a wide range of unique and fun ways to cook with your average vegetables, and I had that in mind when opening this cookbook. This book, however, is really for those who need to cut carbs, eat leaner, are gluten intolerant, or just want to try something different.

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I made this pizza crust from a whole cauliflower, nothing frozen or pre-packaged. I once tried a frozen cauliflower crust pizza from the store, and I did not like it. I went into this pretty skeptical, but this pizza turned out pretty good. I do recommend eating it fresh, this isn’t meant to be leftovers. I added 1 tsp of salt and a dash of garlic powder to the crust before the first bake, and that added a depth of flavor that was enjoyable. Also, don’t expect this to be like real pizza. It does have the flavors since you’re using all the same toppings, but the crust is, well, made from cauliflower, not flour.

I had a great time sitting down with a hard cider, this tasty pizza, and my currents reads, The Idiot and If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller!

Thanks so much Abrams for having us as members for the dinner parties, we’re having so much fun already and look forward to the next one! Be sure to check out the first one we did!

Cheers to the Weekend 2.15.19
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Around the web

We’re in love with Obvious State’s latest blind date release. This is the theme of the year! Did you grab their new postcards too, we love the Bibliophilia set they have too!

Thanks for this reminder that it’s okay to not give into the hype and enjoy a book for a great date night!

This great list of female friendships is great anytime of year! This one is excellent too!

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Instagram

Mixing things up with a super cute lifestyle feed with Mackenzie. *Insert book* for the perfect lifestyle inspiration.

Great color and light can go a long way, plus some fun books and selfies!

Kind of in love with Meagen’s mood, books, and hair.

What We’re Reading

Michaela - I just finished The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle for book club (spoiler alert: I didn’t love it) and am deciding what to read next!

Rikki - Still reading through If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller, The Idiot, and I recently started A Spark of Light. So, I’m on a pretty good streak!