Links I’m Loving this Wednesday

After reading this review of Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas on BookDragon, I immediately put in a request for it at the library. Looks like a great story!

Julia Fierro (author of Cutting Teeth) on writing: (via The Millions)

When I tell the story of how I became a writer, I make sure to include the seven years I spent notwriting. Even after all I’ve accomplished, I still feel ashamed of those years spentnot writing.

 

Mmm, coffee brownies!

This is why I read food blogs. This tomato, peach and avocado bruschetta from Love and Lemons.  Because I would never ever think to put those three things together. Peaches, tomatoes and avocados??! Love it!

It’s not something I’ll ever make, but I was so very fascinated by the making of this Cassata alla Siciliana on David Lebovitz’s blog

These great pictures – and a recipe – of a Blackcurrant and Morello Cherry Drizzle Cake. Those plump berries sitting on top the cake just made me open my fridge, grab some cherries and eat them.

The summery colors in this chickpea salad! So very happy!

And I’m off to try finish reading The Goldfinch.

Things I’m loving this Wednesday

This book bingo. Sounds fun!

You might have seen this news already, but I’m always fascinated by hidden pictures found under famous paintings

This fashion spread is gorgeous. And underwater.

What it’s like to take a 36-hour sleeper train ride from LA to Seattle

These photographs of London bookstores

This recipe –  a reminder that I’ve not made Bibimbap in ages – and a thought to try it with bok choy next time

I am drooling at the thought of curry puffs…. How I miss them!

Random thoughts while vacuuming

– why does the husband use the bathtub as a clothes hanger?

– can I just vacuum around these books instead of moving them off the floor?

– ooh that’s where that book went

– must congratulate Yu-Mei on her stories and tell her that Lighthouse was my favourite story in Balik Kampung

– why can’t I just think things and have them typed out and ready for uploading onto the blog when I’m done

– why do I keep blogging anyway?

– what am I going to do about the kids’ lunch?

– must link to that funny discussion about social media by Maureen Johnson, John Scalzi and Bill Barnes

Maureen: “But isn’t it possible—”
Scalzi: “NO NO NONO NO NO NO. Wait until I’m done.”
Maureen: “I thought maybe…”
Scalzi: “Why haven’t you made me a sandwich yet??” He sighed in frustration, but then allowed, “Now you may speak.”
Maureen (whispered): “I love you.”

– must read something by all three soon. I already like them in person. I prob would like their writing.

– what happens if it’s the opposite? Has that ever happened to you? That you like the book but then discovered you don’t like the writer? Like VS Naipaul. I’ve not read any of his books, I’ve heard he’s a good writer (he does show up in many ‘best of’ lists) but he also is extremely arrogant and just an overall unpleasant person, to put it nicely

Wednesday Links and a cup of tea

– Over at BookRiot, Swapna talks about minorities and mainstream reading:

“You don’t have to write a minority story in order to embrace a minority character.”

Thank you for that, Swapna. It’s exactly how I feel. As a Chinese Singaporean, I try to read more Asian and Southeast Asian literature, but most of the time read more, er, general works, often by American or British writers (who tend to be white). Having grown up and lived most of my life in Singapore where I wasn’t a minority (Chinese make up about 75% of the population), I never thought much about whether I read books with non-white characters. These days though, I’m far more aware of that. And I think it’s even more so when I select books for the kids. I do appreciate that the drawings are becoming more diverse, that they reflect people of different colours and backgrounds (sure wasn’t like that when I was growing up!). And there are picture books by authors like Wong Herbert Yee (Tracks in the Snow and Who Likes Rain?) which aren’t about being Asian or Asian culture but use Asian-looking children as their main characters. Of course we do enjoy books like Grace Lin’s Dim Sum for Everyone and Roseanne Thong’s Round is a Mooncake which are specifically about Chinese culture, but it is nice to be able to read them a picture book that uses a minority character to illustrate a situation that any child, no matter the colour of their skin, can relate to, such as playing in the rain.

– On a similar note, Tao Jones writes in the Wall Street Journal about the Fresh Off the Boat TV series based on Eddie Huang’s memoir, musing first about Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl series (20 years ago!):

For decades, Asians had been all but invisible on this most mass of mass media, flickering on and offscreen again in bit parts or as background scenery; when primetime deigned to include us, it was nearly always in roles that presented us as buffoons, monsters or victims (and sometimes all of the above). The idea that millions of people across the nation might be gathering to watch a show in which they’d be invited into an immigrant Asian household, experiencing our unique issues and aspirations through the humanizing lens of comedy — this was incredible. It was groundbreaking. It seemed like the culmination of decades of struggle for cultural relevance and social inclusion. And from May to September, it was all that my friends and family members could talk about.

But when the show finally arrived, all those expectations came crashing to the ground.

– Buried in Print is back after some database issues and has a great post about standalone mysteries, many of which I’ve not read yet. Onto the TBR list it goes!

– I was rather struck by that picture of Benedict Cumberbatch on the cover of Derry Moore’s An English Room, which Lynn at I prefer reading posted about.  It was like, wait is that who I think it is? It sure looks like him, but it seems so more quiet and gentle than the Sherlock that I know! 😛

– Barnes and Noble Review has a nice interview with George Saunders on Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness, a revised and expanded edition of his 2013 commencement address at Syracuse University. I especially liked the last bit in the interview, where the interviewer tells Saunders that he had first met Saunders at the National Book Awards, and Saunders had been very kind to him:

Actually, that night, I got a lesson in kindness from my wife. That event is kind of exciting. You’re there with your editors and your agents, and it’s really exciting. Then, when you don’t win, you feel a bit like, “Oh God, I’m in public and I just didn’t win.” Just a little bit.  But afterwards, my wife just said, “Let’s dance.” I went, “Well…” She says, “Yeah, come on. I got all dressed up. We’re gonna dance.”

BNR:   You can’t ask for better than that.

GS:   No, exactly. It was a physical cure to whatever whininess or hurt feelings I had, whatever was embarrassing and uncomfortable. She fixed it with this physical gesture of taking my hand. “Let’s go dance.” You dance for two minutes and you’re like, “Yeah, we’re happy.” She used to be a ballet dancer, so her way of being in the world is very physical, very joyful. I remember thinking, “I don’t want to dance; it’s embarrassing; I’m not going to…” But then I couldn’t say no. She looked so beautiful. I’m not going to say no to her. Within a couple of minutes, you’re back to yourself again. And I didn’t do that. She did it. So that’s marriage. A good marriage.

Foodie links:
Cheese, vegetable and egg muffins at Averie Cooks

– The James Beard Award for best cookbooks

– I just made oatmeal cookies (half chocolate chip, half raisin and coconut) and now I wish I had seen this recipe for brown butter chocolate chip cookies from Joy the Baker. Yum

– I’ve never cooked polenta or fennel before but this recipe (and the lovely photos) makes me want to give them both a try!

Garlic Roasted Tomatoes with Fish sounds like what I need to make for dinner another day!

– Mmmm, laksa. I miss that rich spicy coconutty broth.

Something random:
– Check out these crazy-luxurious suites on an airplane!!

Hankering for mee pok and other links for a hot Wednesday

It’s currently 74F/24C and forecasted to hit a high of 90C/32C today! *ahem, despite four years of living in the US, Farenheit numbers still never quite make sense to me.*

I’m currently very absorbed in a Noel Streatfeild e-book I found in the Singapore Overdrive library! I am thrilled to bits because I adore adore Adore Noel Streatfeild despite my constant difficulty in typing her name (‘e’ before ‘a’?, ‘e’ before ‘i’?) , and it always reminds me of the movie You’ve Got Mail. But it has been so very long since I’ve read her books. My sister and I owned quite a few of her books, Ballet Shoes still being my favourite but I also like Curtain Up and Apple Bough. The one I’m currently reading is Ballet Shoes for Anna, not quite as huggable as the other books but it’s Noel Streatfeild! It has kicked me back into a good reading zone again. I was faltering a little after the Readathon, and it didn’t help that the 1yo had a really bad couple of nights/naptimes, probably due to a runny nose he’s been having. He’s knocked out right now for his morning nap, and slept well last night again so hopefully things are back to normal.

Anyway, here are some links I’ve been saving on Feedly

I love reading Design of the Picture Book. Every post makes me want to go browse the children’s section in a bookstore/library. This gorgeous book featured in her latest post is Collect Raindrops.

Have you heard of #WeNeedDiverseBooks yet (here’s mine)? Book Riot tells us all about it

It’s a post from last week but I wanted to highlight Thomas at My Porch’s idea of a Reading Revolution, where you “spend some time at the library and check out as many overlooked books as our lending limit allowed”.

Added some books to my TBR List:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which Claire from Word by Word says “caresses the mind like the sea cradling the body as if it were weightless”.

Vasilly says Mr Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo is one of the best books she’s read this year. Ok I’m sold!

I really like the sound of Shotgun Love Songs, thanks to The Book Catapult’s post

Foodie stuff:

I’m hankering for some fish ball mee pok now... Sigh…

I’m on the book tour for Ruth Reichl’s Delicious! but I just have to point you to Kahakai Kitchen’s recipe of a lovely simple kale salad that goes along with her review. Much as I love kale (we devour homemade kale chips here!), I’ve never actually made a kale salad before, so this sounds great!

Links for a sunny Wednesday

 

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An actual review of some books I’ve read will be up soon. (Amazing huh!). But here are some links that I’ve been admiring recently:

Lisa at ANZ LitLovers has a great post on The Abandoned Book

Pooja at Notabilia points us to the online bookstores in Singapore

Love the artwork and story in this children’s picture book (via Bookriot)

There are just so many books to look out for in June says A Life in Books

If you haven’t yet checked them out, Shiny New Books has been plenty of reviews of books, both brand new and reprints. That TBR list of mine is growing…

A post on how one book blogger manages to read so much. I’m in awe!

If you live in California, it’s California Bookstore Day on May 3!

 

Food-wise, a great idea for spinach and red pepper bacon wrapped eggs from How Sweet Eats. Pretty!

I tend to be a tomato sauce kind of pasta person, but this Fettucine Alfredo from Nigel Slater that Kahakai Kitchen cooked up sounds simply delicious.

Wee Reader loves these Japanese biscuits called Tamago Boro (I didn’t know what they were called till today!), I’m not sure I’ll actually make them but it’s still a fun read.

 

Neither bookish nor foodish, but something that’s been on my mind for a while now. The kids sharing a room. Currently, Wee Reader sleeps in his own room. Wee-er Reader (turning one next week!) is in the loft. No door so we installed two sets of curtains to separate the loft from the corridor and the staircase. It was a bit drafty in the winter but luckily it was a warm winter. They both sleep great in separate rooms. But I’m wondering whether they should sleep in the same room. Can they sleep in the same room? Might work better when Wee Reader no longer needs an afternoon nap (he goes to bed from 2-4 everyday, but he doesn’t necessarily nap). But it sure is good to read others’ experiences!

Happy Lunar New Year! 新年快乐!

It’s the first day of the lunar new year, so 新年快乐!

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Happy Year of the Horse to you.

As we are far far away from our families, the boys don’t get a chance to go visiting. Or experience the kind of New Years that I did growing up, with huge reunion feasts on the Eve, staying up past midnight to usher in the new year, lion dance at my grandparents’ house as well as the constant flow of visitors and seemingly never ending series of visits to relatives and friends. Not to mention all the mouthwatering treats that awaited at each house (except for those herbal drinks which I grudgingly sipped from and still detest today). And the many angbaos to collect (and money to count at the end of each day).

But there are some traditions that I’m trying to uphold here!
Like buying new pajamas and new clothes. Having some oranges in the house to virtually 拜年 with their grandparents over Skype. Plus a somewhat clean (but not tidy) house – the past few days I’ve been busy trying to clean up, to make way for the good luck and all that you know. (Plus during the 15 days of the celebration, you’re technically not supposed to be cleaning. I don’t know if anyone actually sticks to that especially with people visiting and dropping crumbs all over).

We have ang baos 红包 or red packets of money ready for the boys.

And there’s even nian gao 年糕 or sticky cake in the pantry for eating (sliced up and panfried with egg. Yum!) this weekend.

A hotpot lunch had been planned for next weekend with some friends and with my mum who will be visiting from Singapore.

So it will be our own little version of the New Year here in the Bay Area.

Happy new year! 恭喜发财!年年有余!

The baby’s napping and the boy is….

In the guest room being entertained by the grandparents. He had a busy morning at the open gym session where he was in the bouncy house and slide non-stop. It was $5 well spent.

Then we were off to the diner next door, where breakfast is an all-day affair and so we shared pancakes, eggs and some sad limp bacon (crispy is the only way to go!).

Right now, beef stew is in the slow cooker filling the house with all kinds of wonderful smells (I’ve added some bay leaves, star anise, a tiny piece of cinnamon bark, some all-spice and cayenne pepper, plus some L&P sauce and soya sauce – not your typical recipe but I’m about experimenting).

I should be reading but I’m sitting at the computer syncing my phone anyway so figured I might as well stop into wordpress and type out a quick hello to all of you, and hope your week goes well!

I am currently enjoying Consider the Fork: how technology transforms the way we cook and eat, which I would recommend to anyone who enjoys spending time in the kitchen. It made me see my KitchenAid mixer in a different light yesterday as I turned it on and let it whisk egg whites into an airy dream.

And just last night I finished reading A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean, the first book in her Rules of Scoundrels series. Now I’m not much of a romance reader. And in fact would usually turn up my flat nose at anything that has the faintest whiff of ‘romance’, you know, like bulging biceps, ripped bodices, long manes, heaving bosoms and that sort. But I remember reading some good reviews about MacLean’s series (here’s one), and was curious. And it was in a way, oddly satisfying. It was at times sweet, at others, well, dirty. Sure I got irritated by the whole “I want you but I really shouldn’t want you” thing but on the whole, it was rather entertaining. And the second book sounds like it might be even better – a bespectacled, intellectual heroine!

On the TV front (or Netflix front), I’ve been watching the Carrie Diaries. I’m many years past the targeted age group (Carrie Bradshaw is a high schooler!) but it’s been some fun frivolous viewing so far. The things she gets up to as a teenager! Her seemingly normal dad! Her multiethnic friends, where did they all go when she grew up?

And oh it’s nearly Christmas isn’t it? Well our Christmas tree is finally up. The presents are waiting to be wrapped. Waiting because it turns out I have no more sticky tape. The cookies are still in the form of flour, eggs, sugar and butter. And I reckon that my baking goals are far too ambitious this year but we will see how it goes! It isn’t the holiday season till the house smells of cookies! Yesterday it smelled of a mocha cake with coffee buttercream icing but that’s a different, albeit tantalizing, smell all together. The Christmas music has been playing thanks to the husband and his fondness for carols (although every time I am driving I make sure to switch away from that darn station that plays nothing but carols). So I suppose we are relatively ready for the season. I hope yours is going well too.

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Friday things

1. Is it a growth spurt? Or teething? Or both? The baby (who just turned 6 months yesterday, woah) has decided to wake up at all sorts of funny times (1 am last night, 4 am the night before) when just a few days ago he was sleeping till 630- 7. Fun times!

2. I’ve been reading My Ideal Bookshelf, and while I have no idea who half the people are (designers, dancers are among writers and chefs), it makes for some interesting browsing. Although the one bookshelf that made the most sense to me was the person who simply said (I’m paraphrasing), look I don’t really know what an ideal bookshelf can really be, so instead here is what I’m currently reading. I mean, how does anyone pick just a few books that matter to them the most? What would I pick? There’s the children’s books from New Zealand that my penpal in Wellington (her mum really) would send us for Christmas. There’s the books I used to sneak reads from in my aunt’s room at my grandparents’ house, as a kid, they weren’t exactly the usual children’s books fare. There’s the book signed by Douglas Coupland that a good friend got for me from Melbourne, Australia. There’s also the picture books that Wee Reader asks for everyday (currently it’s Demolition by Sally Sutton – I know every bang stamp and zip there). And so much more. Books that might not mean much to anyone else but mean so much to me.
What would be on your ideal bookshelf?

3. I will be attempting to make a Black Forest cake this weekend with this recipe. Hope it goes well. While I’m pretty decent at cake-making, I’m no decorator!

4. It’s persimmon season! That makes me happy. My friend passed me some giant fuyu persimmon from her tree. Unfortunately I only got a few bites as Wee Reader pretty much devoured them.

5. I’m reading Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 and have Christmas carols on the brain. I am so not ready for Christmas. Or winter. Ok so I live in northern Cal where it doesn’t snow but I’m originally from the equator!

6. Have a great weekend!

Oh hello

So my aforementioned Internet problems continued to plague us. Until just a few hours ago when a technician from our service provider figured out that a corroded cable was at fault.

Whee! The Internet is back and along with it all its many wonders and dangers (Season 3 of The Walking Dead on Netflix for instance).

But I’m still reading. A little bit.

Cos without the Internet I did quite q bit of reading and just finished A Monster Calls and I’m kind of all weepy (I did my bawling earlier) so I need something kind of cheery. Any suggestions?