Saturday, October 23, 2021

It's Time to Read!

It's the fall Dewey's 24-hour readathon, and this year I don't have a hockey game to break up the day or a soccer game to distract me. I do have a hockey game at noon tomorrow, however, so I likely won't make the full 24-hours (not that I ever do). 

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Vancouver, BC

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
All the Light We Cannot See - that's been in my stack for the last couple of readathons, but I've timed it badly. This time, I'm putting it number two after I warm up with a cosy mystery.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Popcorn. I bought chips and dip, but I had some last night and now I'm not feeling very inspired by them.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I love cats, field hockey, reading, writing, and of course my family and friends!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
The last few readathons I've started and ended with an audiobook, but I think this time I'll take an audiobook break in the middle of the 24 hours to give my eyes a rest.  

Mid Event Survey 

1. What are you reading right now? 
All the Light We Cannot See

2. How many books have you read so far? 
Finished two and listened to about 2.5 hours of an audiobook

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? 
I think About a Boy - I like to do a Nick Hornby re-read in readathons, as it's a good, cheeky, familiar break

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? 
A work call and some work texts. I dealt with them initially and will follow-up on Monday.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? 
How calm I've felt. And how well I've been mostly able to focus so far.

Closing Survey

  1. How would you assess your reading overall?
    This was one of my more focused readathons. I actually made it past 3am when I put on an audiobook - which actually finished at 5:10.

  2. Did you have a strategy, and if so, did you stick to it?
    My strategy was to start and end with an audiobook, with an audio break in the middle to rest my eyes and that worked. It helped that I didn't have any major distractions or breaks in my day this time.

  3. What was your favorite snack?
    I didn't really snack - had some chips and dip late at night, but I didn't really enjoy them all that much.

  4. Did you add any new books to your TBR/wishlist after seeing what everyone else is reading?
    Didn't do a lot of surfing on social media this time around, so I didn't actually see what other people were reading.

  5. What was your favorite book or experience from this readathon?
    I really liked All the Light We Cannot See, but I'm a sucker for some Jimmy Perez, so I think Cold Earth just nipped it.
In all I finished four books:

Cold Earth
All the Light We Cannot See
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again
About a Boy
Got about 1/3 of the way through Looking for Alaska
Listened to about 5 hours of Framed

Saturday, April 24, 2021

April Readathon Pt 2

Just past the 15 hour mark. Just finished No Great Mischief and am taking a break while my eyes dry.

I'm a little late on the mid-event survey, but here it is:

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now? The Little Book of Cats - Poems & Prose
2. How many books have you read so far? I've finished four books and listened to about 1/3 of an audiobook
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I'm hoping to get to All the Light We Cannot See (it's coming up on my list in two books). Also really looking forward to ending with the audiobook (may have to rewind a bit...)
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? No interrupts, other than being unable not to look at my emails.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? How focused I've been able to be. I think it comes from starting with an audiobook and not trying to get up earlier than I normally do.

Bingo Card:

I didn't read a children's book and while a couple of books had scenes set in the spring or summer, I didn't think they counted. And while there were some cool covers on the books I read, I wouldn't call any of them unique. So no clean sweep, but a few bingos!

Closing Survey: 

1. How would you assess your reading overall? I did really well until about 1:30 - struggled through until 2:30 am then intended to put the audio book back on for the home stretch and fell asleep reading one chapter... I did finish 7 books and dipped into two others, though I didn't get through my original stack of books. So I'll give myself a B. 

2. Did you have a strategy, and if so, did you stick to it? See above :)

3. What was your favourite snack? Peanuts

4. Wanna volunteer for our next event? I don't think I have the bandwidth - I barely get organized enough to do the reading.

Readathon April 2021 pt 1

It's readathon time again! I was going to do this all on Instagram this time 'round, but I couldn't resist keeping a "printed" record.

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, so I'm particularly glad of a day where my only commitment is reading! I'm four hours in, have finished a book, started a second that's been on my TBR list for ages and which I'm enjoying so much already that I'm kicking myself for having denied myself the pleasure so long.

I devised a new method of attack for the readathon this year. The morning hours are the hardest for me - 5-7am at the start and 3-5am at the end, so I set my alarm for 5am and turned on an audiobook. Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce, read by Jason Hughes. In his real Welsh accent (not just the lilt that creeps in even when he's playing English). Swoon! I admit I may have dozed through some of it, but that just means I get to go back and listen again! 

Some things are the same - I ordered my readathon Dominos order (and it's a little disturbing that I have one - almost as disturbing as the realization that the manager at the Subway closest to my office remembers my order, even though I've been working from home for the most part for over a year).

Here's my opening survey:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Vancouver
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? All the Light We Cannot See
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Cold pizza (and late-night popcorn)
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I'm a field hockey & trumpet playing reader and amateur writer, who is currently juggling contracts in very diverse fields. Keeping me on my toes!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I've started the readathon with an audiobook so I can ease into the reading without struggling to keep my eyes open. I'll end with the audiobook (and likely start from the beginning, because I think I dozed off for a bit.

Approaching the end of the first 12 hours, so I'm taking a bit of a break to have a shower and to play a mini-challenge: Bookish Would You Rather

Essentially, you list ten books 1-10 without looking at the questions and then answer using characters from the numbered books.

If the main character of book 2 was trapped in the zombie apocalypse, would they have a better chance of surviving alone or with the love interest of book 7?

Armande Gamache would have a much better chance of surviving on his own, as his choice of love interest would either be Nathan or Sophie from Sophie's Choice. Actually pretty depressing to think about...

Would you rather be trapped on an island with the love interest of book 1 or the main character of book 9?

Easy! I would totally much rather hang out with King Arthur than Daisy Buchanan.

Would you rather have an epic duel with the villain of book 4 or the main character of book 10?

If you're a Hamilton fan, the villain of Burr would be Aaron Burr, and I wouldn't like my odds in a duel with him. But a duel against Ursula Todd would be far more epic than one against Alexander Hamilton, because she would just keep coming back to life.

Would you rather trade lives with the love interest of book 3 forever or the villain of book 5 for a month?

I would likely have a better chance of surviving living as the villain of High Fidelity (and would that be Rob or Laura? - my bet is Rob) than as Eleanor of England, even if she's a pricess.

If the love interest of book 6 were planning something dastardly, would the main character of book 1 or the villain of book 9 have a better chance at stopping them?

Okay, Mr. Knightley would never do anything dastardly, but Frank Churchill would, and Mordred would totally sort him out (though Jay Gatsby could always call in one of his coneggsions).

Would it be better to have the love interest of book 5 in charge of the world for a week, or to have the main character of book 4 join forces with the villain of book 2?

Laura would totally run the world well. I love Vidal's characterization of Aaron Burr, but I wouldn't trust him to run the world with or without Sylvain Francoeur.

If the main characters from books 2, 6, and 9 got together, could they defeat the villain of book 10 armed only with their wits and a bucket of rubber ducks?

Armand Gamache, Emma Woodhouse, and King Arthur vs. Adolf Hitler. I think they could make it work with a time machine!

Would you rather see a concert where the villain of book 8 was headlining, or a movie with the love interest of book 8 as the star?

I'd argue that society is the villain of Cider House Rules, so I'll have to go with a movie starring Candy, because she would be awesome.

Would you rather have every meal made for you by the villain of book 5, or have to rhyme every other word with the main character’s name from book 7?

Still struggling with who the villain of High Fidelity is - I'll go with Ray, who though pretentious, can cook.Though adding "ee" to every second word with "ee" could work for rhyming with Sophie.

The love interest of book 2 has been framed for murder! Will you have a better chance of solving it with the villain of book 6 or the main character of book 3?

Okay, if Reine-Marie were framed for murder, Armand would totally sort it out. But if he weren't around, I'd think Simon de Montfort would be far more useful than Frank Churchill - though Emma is arguably her own worst enemy and I think she would love trying to solve a mystery.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Belgium, but no chocolate

B is for Belgium. Chocolate, waffles, moules frites. I made none of those this week, though I was tempted to take a shortcut and get takeout from Chambar. 

The Meal

For appetizers I made Belgian endive wrapped in ham au gratin - Lot Met Ham en Kaas. There's a typo in the recipe I used, as my tiny endives certainly didn't need 20-30 minutes to cook. Unfortunately I realized it should be 2-3 minutes around minute 7, so they were definitely boiled. And I should have used Gruyere, but I had some cheddar that needed to be used up. I also had very thin slices of black forest ham, so I doubled them up. 

The other challenge I had is that I only really have two decent pots, so my timing got a bit off as I was boiling various vegetables for my other two dishes:

Chicken Waterzooi and Stoemp

As a result both the endives and stoemp had got a bit cold by the time the soup was ready. It didn't do the melted cheese on the endives any favour, but I can enjoy potatoes at any temperature.

You can apparently include all kinds of different vegetables in stoemp, so I divided up the massive carrot and leek between the two dishes and then added in some cabbage left over from last week. It was a lot of cabbage (and I still have a half a head, so I'm thinking I'll revisit Dimlama later this week), though it eventually mixed into the potatoes somewhat unobtrusively.

Despite the temperature challenges, it was enjoyable and I had leftover stoemp to keep me happy for several days. Next time I'll moderate the amount of cabbage to really let the potatoes shine...

Friday, October 23, 2020

Cooking Around the World A-Z: Andorra

Physical distancing has meant coming together socially in different ways - from chatting to rarely seen neighbours during the 7pm cheer for frontline workers to getting to see friends in different cities more than once or twice a year through Zoom happy hours. 

I've become a COVID cliche, raising a sassy sourdough starter, going back to my early '90s dream of learning Welsh, exercising to Youtube videos in my bedroom (funk it out, Jane Fonda!).

But the real upside of spending more time at home and not eating out all the time (as I try not to think about the devastation to the restaurant industry) is learning to cook healthier and more interesting meals. I joined a Facebook group that cooks their way around the world, each week posting pictures of the recipes they've tried from different countries, A-Z.

We've made it through the alphabet now and are starting back at A. This time we're sharing information about the country we've chosen, as well as the recipes we cooked. And since I'm constitutionally incapable of researching anything briefly, I thought I may as well finally use this blog for something other than biannual reading challenges. 

So starting from A:

I picked Andorra, mostly because when I looked at Global Table Adventures for inspiration, a wonderful blog that helped guide me through the first time through the alphabet, I saw one of my favourite tapas, pan y tomate - or rather Pa amb tomàquet in Catalan. And when I read that Trinxat was a kind of pancake made from bacon, potato and cabbage, I was sold. If I could live on potatoes and bacon... well, I likely wouldn't live very long, but it would be a happy shortened life. So I rounded the meal off with a Warm Spinach and Mushroom Salad to try and balance my nutritional intake.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Reverse Readathon - Day 2

 There are just over four and a half hours left in the reverse readathon. So far I've read three books, started a fourth and listened to about 3.5 hours of an audiobook while I "rested my eyes". Although I'm quite certain I heard at least 3/4 of it...

I've also done three sprints and set up a reading challenge on Goodreads, though I'll catch up on the books I've already read in 2020 when I have a bit more brain power.

I've got two official Bingos and have five spaces to fill before the end to get a full blank out. Also did the Word Search (and found an extra word that I think was missed from the list).

Back to reading now!

Closing Survey:

1) How would you assess your reading overall. I finished four books and made inroads into another three, as well as listened to an audiobook when my eyes got too tired to read. My comprehension wasn't at the same level all the time, and towards the end I was rushing to finish bingo squares rather than really appreciating the reading.

2) Did you have a strategy, and if so, did you stick to it? My main strategy was to fill all the squares and to read as much as possible over the 24 hours. I did stick to that, but I think if I'd picked a couple of shorter books, I would have completed more books rather than having three unfinished books that I read to cover squares.

3) What was your favorite snack? Picking away at a rotisserie chicken. I was really looking forward to chips and dip, but I bought the wrong type of chips and an unsatisfying dip. Not that it stopped me from eating them...

4) Wanna volunteer for our next event? It would depend on my work situation in October. At the moment, I likely wouldn't be able to commit to anything else, but who knows where things will be in two months.

Final bingo:

I covered every square, but I had to leave books unfinished to do so. I don't feel badly about Winter, as I read one full essay, but I wish I'd had another 45 minutes or so to finish off The Catcher in the Rye. And even though I was looking forward to it the most, I'm glad I left The Mirror & the Light until the end, as it would likely have eaten up most of the readathon if I'd started with it. Looking forward to October! 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Reverse Readathon

I'm very excited to be doing the reverse readathon for the first time. Hitting 3am at hour 10 will hopefully be less painful than hitting it at hour 22!

I started a few minutes late, as I didn't want to miss too much of the weekly Zoom Happy Hour - my friends were mystified that I was getting ready to spend the next 24 hours reading as much as possible. Mostly because they know I would happy do that any time, with or without the excuse of a readathon.

Here's the TBR pile that I pulled together to hopefully cover the majority of the bingo squares. For the make your own challenge, Barb suggested I read while doing a handstand, but I pointed out that it would be too much of a challenge to do a handstand, with or without reading, especially if I attempted it while sleep deprived, so we compromised on reading while doing a ski-sit.

Opening Survey:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Vancouver, BC
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? The Mirror and the Light, though I wish I'd re-read the first two books first.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Chips and dip. I've been pretty good about not buying/eating potato chips during the pandemic, but I'm looking forward to splurging.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I'm a readaholic, who loves to play golf, trumpet, and field hockey. Sadly only the first of those are happening these days. But I am reading!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I'm going to try and stay awake the entire time. I remembered to buy an energy drink this time and if I get really tired, I'm going to try taking a shower. Which likely just means I'll wake up sometime tomorrow evening with my hair sticking up.

Hour 7:

I've finished two books - Lips Together, Teeth Apart by Terrence McNally and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I remember seeing Lips Together at the Playhouse back in 1993. It was about a year before I started working there - I was working at the Renaissance and we must have gotten comps. It was a fantastic production - the original Broadway production had an amazing cast, but I saw the Playhouse cast the entire time I was reading.

Also finished the crossword. My printer is out of ink, so I edited the pdf vaguely...