Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery

I’m trying to read one book each week, in an effort to make my way through my Hoarders-style book collecting.  I picked up The Elegance of the Hedgehog the last time I was in Canada and picked it up about 15 seconds after finishing The Shack, desperately needing to get that book out of my head.  My experience with The Shack was less than stellar.  It did make for an interesting book club meeting…9 out of the 10 of us didn’t like it!  Just not our cup of tea, I guess.  I think it was the first time that we’d read a book that most of us didn’t enjoy.

Anyways, I had heard good things about Elegance, so I was eager to get into it.  It is a truly beautiful book.  Well written, entertaining and engaging, this book made me want to go to bed a bit earlier each night so I could make some headway on it and some of the writing is so beautiful that there were lines I read a few times over, just because they were such lovely thoughts.  I really enjoyed it.

OOTR’s Book Rating: 8/10

Next up is The 19th Wife: A Novel by David Ebershoff.  This one is a book club pick and I’m looking forward to it!


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Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko

A few years ago, I went home to visit my parents and found my 50-something year-old Dad furiously grinding vegetables and greens in his new and fancy blender.  I’m not going to lie…it was weird.  I was skeptical.  How could liquified spinach, beets and grapefruit possibly be a good thing?  Well, maybe that particular combination wasn’t fantastic, but he was on the right track.  I was curious, so I bought Green for Life, by Victoria Boutenko and read it in one sitting.  Because it was that interesting.

Green for Life introduces the famous green smoothie, in all its glory.  The author, Victoria Boutenko, is well known in the  raw foods world and, with her family, has dedicated her career to educating people on the benefits of eating fresh, raw produce.  Blended.  According to Boutenko, our digestive systems are not able to properly break down leafy greens enough on their own to capture all of the nutrients stored in the cellular structure of the plant.  By blending greens, the “chewing” is done for us on a much more efficient scale than we are capable on our own, so the nutrients can flow right into our own cells, where they can be utilised by our bodies immediately.  She talks about the many health benefits that can be gained from adding green smoothies to our diets and profiles a study where she prepared and provided a group of people with green smoothies for 30 days and observed changes in health.  The results were amazing…disappearing asthma and allergies, skin conditions cleared up, weight loss…those are just a few. 

The end of the book contains a number of green smoothie recipes to get you started.  They’re pretty basic, but contain combinations I wouldn’t think of (parsley and pear comes to mind…) and so far, they’ve all been tasty.

I found this book really interesting and it was definitely what jump-started me on making my own green smoothies on a regular basis.  I was surprised by how delicious they are and how you really can’t taste the greens at all when you add fruit.  It just tastes like a regular fruit smoothie.  Seriously! 

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of green smoothies, I would highly recommend this book as a starting point.  It’s an easy read, super interesting and motivating when you read through the results of the study.

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I have not eaten one bowl of oatmeal in 2010.  How odd.  I blame this on the fact that I returned from Canada with THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL TIME, which now dominates breakfast in our house.  We blend our breakfast.  This morning’s concoction was the greenest yet:

  • banana
  • KALE
  • a whole orange, peeled
  • a whole lime, unpeeled
  • a big spoonful of spirulina

Very…tropical.  I loved it.  Carlos called it “peely”.  Whateves.

Today was a crazy day at work.  I got called upstairs in the morning by the big boss to work on a “quick little project” which I still hadn’t finished by the time I flew out the door at 5:30 to meet some friends for dinner.  I’m thinking it will eat up most of tomorrow as well.  At least it’s interesting and kind of fun. 

I’m falling back into old habits and building up quite a huge virtual shopping cart on Amazon.  Why is Amazon so convenient?  Why do they have to already know my credit card number and all information so that ordering books, quite literally, requires no more than a click or two.  So easy…but so bad.  Bad because I have bookcases full of books that I haven’t yet read, all purchased under similar circumstances…that way too easy click.

On the topic of books, I’ve gotten involved in my book club again.  I say “again” because last year I read one book, attended one meeting, and then flaked out completely during  a month where the book was total crap.  So, I committed back in December to re-join for January’s meeting and anxiously awaited the e-mail announcing the book.  The big winner?

The Shack, by William Paul Young. 

The verdict?  The Crap.

I feel like this is another Eat, Pray, Love situation.  Everyone RAVED about Eat, Pray, Love.  So, obviously, I bought a copy and settled in to read it on a flight from Ottawa to Victoria.  I read as she whined her way through Italy and India and by the time she was whining her way into Indonesia, I was SO over it.  Here is a woman with this amazing gift of having the resources to do whatever the hell she pleases for an entire year, and all she does is whine about it.  I’m not sure I’ve found any written character so annoying.  Ever.

So, back to The Shack.  Another book with huge press and four-thousand-and-something reviews on Amazon (not all of them good, mind you), and claims that it was life changing by people whose opinions I really do respect.  To be fair, I never actually read anything about the book.  I had heard about it and seen it in stores, but never picked it up to read the synopsis and had no idea what it was about.  Ergo, I had no idea that it was a religious book.  The first half isn’t, but the second half is a whole lot of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and to be honest, I can’t get through more than 3 or 4 pages without feeling as though my mind is drifting off onto other things, like taxes or the pile of laundry that is waiting for me.

Maybe, like Eat, Pray, Love, it deserves a second chance.  Though, Eat, Pray, Love wasn’t any more endearing the second time around.  In fact, I don’t even think I made it all the way through India.  Ah, well.

Next month’s read is The 19th Wife: A Novel, which I’m looking forward to.  Big Love is back on TV (season 4 started this month) and I do love those crazy polygamists.  Though, I don’t think that this book takes place in the suburbs.

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Blue Monday.

Did you know that the third Monday in January is apparently “Blue Monday”, the most depressing day of the year?  I didn’t, but that would explain why I woke up yesterday morning feeling less than stellar.  The reason it’s named that way is because this is where New Year’s resolutions start to fail, holiday visa bill has arrived, and there’s not a long weekend in sight until April.  Who can put on a happy face in the face of that?  Anyways, I made the most of my Blue Monday, being (somewhat) productive at work, meeting some girlfriends for (an unpictured) sushi at lunch, and putting together a gigantic pot of soup after work that will last us through the rest of the week for quick dinners after work.

I love having soup on-hand.  Coming home and not having to think about making dinner is so nice sometimes.

Yesterday I ate:

Delicious soy latte - my first of 2010!

1L of water...I drank 2 of these.

An apple stolen from the lunch room. I couldn't resist and I'm *pretty* sure it was up for grabs...

A few bites of a cookie from my co-worker. Peanut butter and chocolate are my nemeses. Epic fail on the "avoid white sugar/flour" goals...

As I mentioned above, lunch was unpictured.  The sushi restaurant we went to was very dark, so photographs would have been a) tricky and b) VERY obvious if I’d used my flash.  Oh well.  I had spicy tuna salad, salmon sashimi and miso soup.  Deeelicious.

And dinner?  African Yam & Peanut Soup from my beloved Rebar cookbook.  If you don’t have this cookbook, I would recommend that you drop whatever you are doing (after you finish reading my blog) and go buy it.  Now.  It is fabulous.  Vegetarian, creative, amazing.  I wasn’t going to post the recipe but I just googled it and found it on RecipeZaar, so I guess it’s “out there”.  It takes a bit of time (lots of chopping/mincing) but the results are so worth it.  I made a slightly larger batch than average because Carlos is a double-serving type of soup eater.  Serve with lime wedges and hot sauce. 

I normally make this on the weekend so making it on a weekday night felt a bit rushed and I was staaaarving by the time I finished it up, so a photo was the last thing on my mind.  But, guess what I’m eating for dinner tonight?  Photo to come.

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