For the love of the Classics

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It was Mark Twain who once said, “Classic: a book which people praise and don’t read.” For most of my life,  this was mostly absolutely applied to me. Unless it was assigned to me in school, I rarely picked up what could be considered classic literature, instead veering toward new fiction, historical fiction, fantasy or science fiction (usually in that order.) I read for the lovely escapism of a good book and classics felt like too much brain work. But, lately, I’ve decided that part of my reading education should include either re-reading or reading for the first time books that are considered to be classics. 

Though the definition of what is considered a “classic” is debated, I think it’s safe to say in order for a book to be a classic it usually speaks to some ultimate truth that stands the test of time.  Sometimes these truths are very, very long truths, so my first inclination is fear at the thought of tackling War and Peace. (Confession: I bought it months ago and I still haven’t read it yet. Which I know I need to do. In fact, I’m not allowing myself to buy another book (after I finish Thorn Birds and Sputnik Sweetheart) until I finish it). Not buying books is a very hard thing for me to do especially since I discovered a used book store in my town where you can get books for $2. I have 2 book shelves, double stacked with books  on each shelf and loads of books under my bed. And I keep buying more. It’s a disease. 

For those of you with your own book lover disease, I have complied a list here of my top 5 favorite classic books. It was really hard for me to narrow down to just 5 but these are the books that I read that make me feel like, aw yeah, I want to read that again. And again.  Books that didn’t make the cut but that deserve an honorable mention: the inspiration for this blog, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith and The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Both books I’ve read multiple times and will do so again. 

Top 5 Favorite Classics

anna karenina book cover vintageAnna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. You guys, this book was published in 1875 and I read it for the first time in 2010 and was like, whoa this is exactly what heartbreak feels like. It is so good, sad and true all at once. Being able to write a truth that resonates 200 years later qualifies Tolstoy for genius status in my opinion. At first, it seemed very long and the Russian names are similar so I was always confusing the characters. But, stick with it, you won’t regret it. If you want to cheat, you should totally see the movie that recently came out though Keira Knightly is just way too thin to be Anna and I hate Vronksy’s whispy mustache but  it’s still a beautiful film worth seeing.

les-miserables-hugo-victor-hardcover-cover-artLes Miserables  by Victor Hugo. This is a book that I’m sure many of you have never read since the musical is a work of genius on it’s own. But seriously, you should read the book. It is truly a beautiful example of timeless writing. Especially Jean Valjean, who might be one of my all time favorite characters and who is just a beautiful soul. It is absolutely worth reading and another one that seems super long until you start it and then you’ll devour it in like 2 days like I did.

 

pride-and-prejudice-1946Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I’ve read this book multiple times and every time I remember all over again why I love it. Elizabeth Bennett is one of my all time heroines for many reasons but mostly her sass like her line about her sister being, “the most determined flirt to ever make her family ridiculous.” Best. Plus, this is a book that is unexpectedly hilarious–try reading the scenes with Mr. Collins without laughing, it’s basically impossible.

 

4631A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway. A few years back I went through a serious Hemingway phase where I basically devoured his books back to back and loved all of them. Much like his character in Midnight in Paris says, (one of my fav movies, btw) his writing is very honest and true. I had a hard time choosing one of his books that was my favorite but this one captured the lost generation and my love for 1920’s Paris is strong. I also really loved The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls. If you haven’t read Mr. Hemingway get on it, like now.

 

51Eyg5IySaL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Little Women, by Lousia May Alcott. This was the first proper book I ever read at 13 and so it holds a special place in my heart. I suppose this book might be responsible for my lifelong love for reading because after I read it I was hooked. No matter how many times I’ve read it, I still cry and laugh and want to hug my sister when it’s all over. Truly required reading for everyone but especially all my ladies out there.

 

Okay, now that I’ve done the work of narrowing down my classics list, tell me some of yours! What classics could you read over and over again? Do tell. 

Have a rad weekend

Yayy it’s Friday! I got inspired to wish you all a RAD weekend since we all know rad is an underutilized word in 2016 and that needs to be rectified immediately.

What are you up to this weekend? By the time you read this, I will  be in a plane, feeling annoyed that I am awake so early and have a layover but SO HAPPY that I am going, going, back, back to Cali, Cali to visit my family this weekend in LA. I have been dreaming about tacos all week, I’m not even kidding. So excited to be in a real city where the favorite past time isn’t slots or bowling. I feel like I’m coming out of exile, just for a few days, and it is grand.

To send you off in style, here are some totally radical things I saw on the internet this week:

Some stupid principal thinks Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings cause brain damage. I’m down with the theory that this dude is actually Voldemort, whose with me?

This kinda makes me feel old: it’s the 30th anniversary of Top Gun. Remember when people used to think Tom Cruise was hot?

15 wine slushies you need to drink outside this summer. Wine + slushie = yes. But we should totally call them wlushies.

How to be a boss–wise words from some wise ladies. Feeling Mindy Kaling’s quote 100%.

Gilmore Girls quotes for real life. At least twice this weekend I’m going to try to incorporate “Oy with the Poodles already” in conversation.

The best way to cut a mango. Seriously, helpful. Cutting mangos is hard yo.

8 snacks you can make with peanut butter. I’m on team PB forever. For-ev-er. For-evvvvverrrr

The White House Bedroom Through the Years.  Please, please can I have the  Jackie room in my house? So pretty.

 

 

Super Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

3076576716b834d75e2ad7a27c18a86fI think peanut butter is high on the list of foods that I would be loathe to live without. There are so many options for deliciousness with peanut butter: the simple beauty of a  PB & J sandwich, the many desert variations (ice cream, cookies, pie, not to mention with chocolate!), and the savory options like in the sauce for a chicken satay.

That is why it is so sad to me that peanut butter has been all but outlawed from kids lives these days. I understand it’s necessary and would absolutely want to be sensitive to kids allergies but why the heck do we have so many these days? Nut allergies have risen 3 fold since the 1990’s and they still don’t know why. But, there is a theory that consuming nuts when you are pregnant can reduce your kids risk of developing an allergy. So, think of this post as a public awareness campaign for the expectant mamas out there. Making these cookies could help make sure your kid enjoys a life of peanut buttery goodness. And you can’t put a price on that.

This recipe comes from Betty Crocker, who was my first cooking teacher. My mom gave me that iconic red and white cook book when I went away to college and it is where I learned all the basics for cooking. Nothing fancy, but a great way to get started. If you are just learning how to cook, Betty won’t steer you wrong. These are the kind of cookies you can whip up in a few hours and are sure to please the peanut butter lovers in your lives. One thing  I would note, don’t skimp on refrigerating the dough, it makes all the difference.  Also, I know Betty says you can use margarine but seriously that stuff is disgusting and I thoroughly hope none of my readers would use it , ever.  #butterforever #margarinenever

Peanut Butter Cookies, via Betty Crocker

  • What you’ll need:
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup peanut butter
    • 1/4 cup shortening
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1 egg
    • 1 1/4 all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • How to make them:
    • Step 1: Mix sugars, peanut butter, shortening, butter and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm.
    • Step 2:  Heat oven to 375ºF.  Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place about 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten in crisscross pattern with fork dipped into sugar.
    • Step 3: Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

 

Have a great weekend!

Funny-Friday-Meme-18-13

Hooray, we’ve made it to Friday! What are your plans for this weekend? Anything but work? Yes, sounds like a good plan to me.

The Texan and I are going to go out with friends tonight at one of the few fancy places in town that doesn’t have slot machines–holla! I feel like there are lots of events happening this weekend. One, its derby weekend so this is your excuse to wear fancy hats and drink juleps (if you need one). Oh, and watch horses race because it is awesome.  And two, it’s mothers day so at minimum I hope you are giving your mother a call but really you should be arranging some thoughtful gift/meal because she’s totally earned it. Whatever you are up to, I hope it is just grand.

Here are some cool links I saw around the web this week:

15 fresh flower gifts for Mother’s Day: For those of you who have procrastinated on your mothers day gift.

These rose shaped potatoes look both adorable and delicious.

What do you think about bleach tie dye?  I’m concerned that breathing bleach fumes might kill us all but that dress is pretty cool. Tough call.

Mint Julep everything. For those of you that want more mint julep-y goodness, those cupcakes look kind of amazing.

What do you think about Justin Timberlake’s new song? I kind of love it.

OMG you guys, there is going to be a Center Stage sequel. And it will be on lifetime so 80% chance it will be cheesy as all get out. I’m not sure we can be friends if you don’t love Center Stage, the ballet, the music. The red toe shoes!

21 reasons everyone should love Sixteen Candles: This is basically an excuse to look at gifs from one of the greatest movies of all time, so you’re welcome.

How to make classic coffee cake: I love coffee, I love cake, I love this link. Pretty sure I’m making this tomorrow.

Have a FANTASTIC weekend!! xo

 

 

 

Weeknight Meal: Peach Whiskey Chicken

I was in a funk this week about what to make for dinner.  It sounds minor but the burden of having to come up with new ideas for meals that are balanced and delicious can be daunting. That is, until I remembered this amazing chicken. Or should I say, this amazing sauce because the sauce!! Seriously, you guys, it is the best  thing ever. I absolutely would bathe in it, or at least baste myself in it. It is that good.

You know how you have those few meals where every time you make it, you’re like, seriously why don’t we make this every week? That is how I feel about this sauce. I could write a few hundred more words about how much I love it but I’m sure that would get old. So instead, I will get to the good stuff and share the recipe. It is from the Pioneer Woman, a blogger lady who I liked long before she became TV famous.

A few notes about the recipe. The Texan requested chicken breast instead of chicken thighs so I lessened the cooking time considerably lest our breasts turn to mush (and no one wants that). It turned out so great he was still talking about the chicken right before we went to sleep. I live somewhere that has seriously the worst peaches ever so I didn’t add the fresh peaches and it still turned out great (though I did miss them). I also cut the recipe in half because it’s just us two. And, because I’m a jerk, I will point out that I spell whiskey with an “e” because I used American whiskey, not Scotch or Irish whisky.

Peach Whiskey Chicken, via the Food Network 

  • What you’ll need: 312627ec-5db3-4cfb-84e8-7223caacb90f
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 12 chicken legs or thighs, bone in, skin on
    • 1 yellow onion, diced
    • 1 1/2 cups whisky
    • 4 cups barbecue sauce
    • 1 cup peach preserves
    • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 4 peaches, pitted and sliced into 8 slices each
    • Mashed potatoes, for serving
    • 3 green onions, sliced thin, for serving
    • Chopped fresh parsley, for serving
  • How to make it:
    • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
    • Step 2: Add the onions to the skillet and stir and cook over medium heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Pour in the whisky, taking care if you are cooking over an open flame. Cook for 3 minutes or so, allowing the whisky to cook and reduce.
    • Step 3: Grab your favorite bottled barbecue sauce and pour it into the pan. Add the peach preserves, Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 cup water to the sauce, then whisk to combine. Add the chicken back to the pan. Then throw in the peaches.
    • Step 4: Cover the skillet with a lid or aluminium foil, and then roast in the oven until the chicken is tender and falling off the bone the sauce is beautiful and rich and the peaches are soft (about 1 1/2 hours). That’s how you know it’s done!