Living the cottage life, Alaskan style!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Good Reads

Fall is hitting us head on!  The leaves are falling.  It's windy.  The days of all daylight are turning into shorter days with less daylight.  Pretty soon we'll be winterizing our gardens and tidying up the place in preparation for winter. 

Then I can sit back and read. 

I don't have a lot of free time in the summer.  I mean, it's daylight all night long.  We're busy busy.  We're trying to get projects done and enjoying life while the weather is nicer.  But I don't generally read much in the summer. 

This time of year, though, I start thumbing through my piles of books to select the next few to read.  I'm a light reader.  I don't like to invest a lot of energy into reading a book that I have to contemplate and I certainly don't like books where I have to analyze what's being said!  Just give me a good read.  It can be a romance, a western, a comedy, a true story, a mystery.  It can be about dogs, or other countries, wars, or the Oregon Trail.  It just needs to be light otherwise they'll only put me to sleep.  Actually, all books do, put me to sleep.  As soon as I start reading, my eyelids will get heavy. 

I've read some really good books this past year.  I actually keep a list of the books I've read throughout the year and rate them with stars.  Yes, I'm pathetic, I know!  But those books that I rate a three of four star (****) are books I will keep in my library to reread. 

Like Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.  Good.  Good.  Good.  This was a 4**** book. Sadly, I did give this book away and I don't know why.  Now I'll have to buy another copy.
Sarah's Key 1st (first) edition Text Only

Some of my other favorite reads are books that are centered around cooking, like Francesca's Kitchen by Peter Pezzelli and .  And The School of  Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister.  I love books about cooking because they're always centered around love, family, or romance. 

I also love book series.  The Mitford series by Jan Karon is one of my long-time favorite series.  Every year when the next book comes out, I re-read all the previous books before I'll read the newest.  Course, after doing this every year, they get to be pretty fast reads because I already know all the characters and what's going to happen next.  But series draw me in and I feel like I know the characters.  The Cedar Cove series by Debbie Macomber is another favorite series of mine.  These series take me away into a place where I'm comfortable. 

I love romance novels....  I'm such a sucker for a good romance.  Like Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks. I love all Nicholas Sparks books, but just recently got rid of all of them.  There are some books that I love, but don't re-read over and over because they're so similar to any other romance book out there.   They're a dime a dozen. 
Nights in Rodanthe

Then there's books about dogs.  I have a couple in my library that make me laugh and cry.  Running to the Mountains and A Dog Year by Jon Katz.  If you're a dog lover, check out these two books. 
A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me

I'm also drawn to historical novels.  Not non-fiction, but fiction about the real events.  One of the best I've read recently was Moloka'i by Alan Brennert.  A good, good book about the Leper colony of Hawaii. 

So there you have it.  Some of my favorite reads.  These are all books I'll keep in my library.  The books I didn't keep, aren't worth mentioning, I guess! 

What are some good books you've read recently?  Nancy

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ash Spirea

Isn't this beautiful? 
It's Ash Spirea.
It comes into its glory about this time of the year to give me something to drool over.
It starts out with little droplets of white beads. 
A neighbor took some cuttings for wedding bouquets she was making.
I bet it was gorgeous.
The plant itself gets to be 10' tall and makes a great hedge and barrier.
It can also be considered invasive because it sends out runners for 3' in all directions.
I've decided to let it take over this particular garden as I love it that much.
Soon, it will change colors and I'll have a wall of oranges.
I'll share Fall pictures soon. 

Later!  Nancy
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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Morning Time Granola

I love my mornings.  I love getting up early and waiting for the morning to happen.  I love sitting at the table, sipping my coffee, reading through emails, checking my Facebook page, reading my favorite blogs and watching the bird and squirrel activity outside. I love my quiet time.  Those mornings when I don't have to be in a hurry to get going, to get dressed, to be ready for the day. 

Those days are far and few in between though since I babysit grandbabies many days of the week which does not allow for any morning loafing on my part.  And now I'm trying to squeeze in a 30 minute walk before the kids arrive, which gives me hardly any "me" time.  Well, I suppose it's all "me" time, but it's "me being busy" time, not the quiet time I love in the mornings. 

But I cherish those quiet mornings when I have nothing pressing to do but sit and enjoy the morning. 

I have a wonderful recipe for granola, and a perfect breakfast is a little granola with a little yogurt on top and some blueberries and/or bananas on top of that.  With my cup of coffee.  And my quiet time.  The only detail I'm missing is the tropical breeze and early morning balmy weather of Hawaii.  But THAT'S my ideal morning. 
If you like granola, try this recipe that I got from my sister, who got it from our cousin.  It's fantastic. 


In large bow, combine: 
6 cups regular rolled oats
2 cups almond (or pecans)
1 tsp cinnamon

In smaller bowl, whisk together:
1 cup honey
3/4 cup canola oil
1 TBS vanilla

Stir honey mixture into oat mixture.  Spread on lightly oiled cookie sheet.  Bake 350 until brown, about 20-25  minutes.  Stir, scraping sides and bottom.  Reduce heat to 225 and continue baking about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Let cool completely in pan, then scrape into air tight container or Ziploc bag.

In smaller airtight container, combine:
2/3 cup dried cherries
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds

You can mix or match this dried fruit to whatever you like.  When ready to serve, just add the dried fruit. 

This is so yummy.  I don't usually add the dried fruit, though, but opt for fresh fruit instead.  Enjoy! 

Later!  Nancy
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