I’ve been reading a few books on hospitality, and have gained things to think about and to implement in my own life.  As with any topic, after a while all the books begin to sound the same.  To sum up best what I think of what is hospitality, I quote Lord of the Rings (as quoted in one of the books I read):

“[Elrond’s house] was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all…

All of them, the ponies as well, grew refreshed and strong in a few days there.  Their clothes were mended as well as their bruises, their tempers and their hopes.”

J.R.R. Tolkien from The Hobbit.


Spicy Pumpkin Pie

The pie turned out a success.  As I was making it, I noticed that it was quickly depleting my spices, and with Thanksgiving not quite in view so no amazing sales on spices yet, I didn’t measure the spices exact to the recipe.  It still turned out spicy, but not too spicy.  Just as I finished the pie, the weekend became cool and autumn-like.  It was great timing, or my pie-making skills called down cool weather.  No rain where we lived, but it was nice to see dark clouds above.  Tonight we had chili with cornbread, which was still fitting to the beginning of autumn.  I only hope that as we travel to Monterey this weekend that it will warm up some.  I don’t want to freeze in Monterey.  I want to be able to walk around and enjoy the beautiful ocean.

On to the recipe, though no pictures as some of the filling spilled, so the pies did not look very pretty.  I am no Martha Stewart — all I care about it how it tastes.

Spicy Pumpkin Pie

Rachel Fox’s adaption

1 9 inch unbaked pie crust

2 eggs lightly beaten

1 fluid 12 ounce can evaporated milk

1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

2.  In a medium bowl mix the eggs, evaporated milk, and pumpkin.

3.  In another bowl mix together the rest of the ingredients.  Slowly stir into the pumpkin mixture trying to avoid lumps.

4.  Pour pumpkin mixture into prepare 9 inch unbaked pie crust.

5.  Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn down heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 – 40 minutes.  Pie is down when the knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.

6.  Let pie cool.  Can serve warm, but too warm.

Adapted from “Mom’s Pumpkin Pie” from Allrecipes.com

Autumn evenings

I stepped foot into Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf today and was accosted by their apply drinks.  Apple Tea Lattes, Carmel Apple Fraps, Carmel Apple drinks, etc.  Their marketing didn’t grab me (still had my cup of Assam with milk and sugar), but I did think about Autumn all day.  Apple cider, apple pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pies, hot cocoa, carmel popcorn….

So for dinner tonight we’re having Shake n Bake Chicken (a blast from the past!), some veggies, and pumpkin pie.

This year Autumn feels different and for the obvious reason, I am now married.  I get to bake pies and soups in my home.  Feeling cozy in my home warms my heart (as much as that is over-said).  With that, I can’t wait to go home and bake chicken and pies.  I would say that we’d eat pie in front of the fireplace, but it’s still over 90 degrees outside!  We’ll probably end up walking over to Borders to read for a bit.

If the pie is a success, I’ll post the recipe soon.

The Half-Finished Books to Read in 2009

Seeing everyone’s top-ten lists made me want to create my own list.  I thought about my favorite books this past year:

Inkdeath, Dead and the Gone, Papertowns, Home (Marilynne Robinson)…and realized that I lost my list of books I’ve read and I didn’t use GoodReads all year.

I really wanted to make a list and as I was starting to box some of my books to prepare for moving later this year, I saw how many post-its I had in these books.  And most of the post-its were either in the middle or thirty pages in, so I thought I’d make a list of the books I hope to finish in 2009.  I don’t think I’ll have a chance to read much today, so its a safe bet that none of these books will be finished in 2008.

~ On Persephone’s Island by Mary Taylor Simeti

~ One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

~ The Din in the Head by Cynthia Ozick

~ Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

~ Misreadings by Umberto Eco

~ Essays by George Orwell

These are the books I want to finish at some point hopefully in 2009.  The others, well it would be great if I finish them, but they’re not a priority.

Tonight a group of us are going to spend the night on Colorado Blvd in anticipation for the Rose Parade.  Seeing that California has had much warmer weather in the past few days, Brian and I thought that this would be the best and only chance we’d have to try this again.  Last time we tried sleeping on Colorado, we ditched the group we were with, as it had been raining and windy for over four hours.

See you in 2009!

Flurry of Activities

It has been busy for the past couple of weeks with homework and seeing people.  On Friday, October 25th, I received a great surprise.  Brett Butler, the baseball player, came to our school to talk to the local high-school and college baseball players.  As a child I avidly watched every Dodger baseball game on the television (at least all the games my mom would let watch).  This was back in the 90s, so the games were still good.  I loved watching Raul Mondesi, Hideo Nomo, Orel Hershier and other Dodger players, but my favorite was Brett Butler. I remember when he was first diagnosed with cancer and his comeback when everyone thought his baseball career would be over.  The night that Princess Diana died, I was standing in line at the local Target with my Brett Butler autobiography, praying that I’d have a chance to meet my hero.  Sadly, that was not the case and I was heartbroken.  Baseball, as a child, meant a lot to me.  So seeing Brett Butler up close and hearing him speak was monumental.

I also saw Marilynne Robinson later that evening.  She was witty and quiet.  The venue was amazing as it was an old theater in Santa Barbara.  She shared more information about Glory and her decision to return home that was not in her most recent book, Home.  These details just showed how much Marilynne Robinson was acquainted with her own characters and the hope of having another Gilead novel.

Last week I saw John Green again in Santa Monica (I saw him earlier at the ALA conference, but he was only signing books).  It was amazing.  John Green drew a crowd of not just highschoolers, but adults of all ages.  Admittedly, some adults were there with their children, but not many.  There were only a few (I could count them on one hand) who haven’t been faithfully tracking the Brotherhood 2.0 or was not a Nerdfighter.  The energy in the room was fueled mostly from John Green himself (which was surprising due to how long he’s been on tour) as he dressed up as Walt Whitman, threw marshmellow peeps into the crowd, and was relaxed  on stage as if he toured all the time.

Besides traveling up and down Los Angeles County, I have been working away at my classes.  In less than six weeks my first semester will be done.  After the middle of November I will have only six units, which will feel like a breeze after doing on average 10 units (hurrah for one and two unit classes!).  And as the stores don their Christmas decorations, I’m reminded that all too soon the homework will be over.

Interview with Marilynne Robinson

When reading Gilead or her most recent novel, Home, I couldn’t help but to stop at times and contemplate what I just read. For more modern novels, this is not typical. It is not surprising then, when I read this interview that Marilynne Robinson says that she does not like clever modern writing, but old books are her favorites.

“She is known as a serious person who hates small talk and prefers authors who are long dead: “I’m not terribly interested in clever writing.” She mostly keeps to herself in the broad sweep of Iowa, where she teaches at the university’s renowned Writers’ Workshop. She is sometimes seen walking her dog with her head buried in Melville or Thoreau. ”

To read more of the good interview: Meeting Marilynne Robinson at More Intelligent Life


Home by M. RobinsonWhen I finished reading Home by Marilynne Robinson earlier this week, I was left thinking about our humanity.  I finished her novel Gilead earlier this week and I quickly picked up my ARC of Home.  Where Gilead was thoughtful and beautiful throughout the entirety of the book, Home was more direct.  Glory drove the story forward, but it was appropriate.  In Gilead, Ames was our narrator; thoughful and slow.  As one who is preparing to say good-bye.  In Home, Robinson focuses on family and faith.  There is the wayward child, Jack, who seems to never fit in with his family and then Glory, who feels she does not have a soul.  Just as in Gilead, there are several scenes that easily are heart-breaking.  Especially as it deals with family and redemption.

On a literary note, with this second novel revolving around the town of Gilead, I couldn’t help but think of Faulkner.  Through the second novel Home Robinson continues to set up this fictional town that feels very real.  While Ames is not in this story as much, he is still there and seen through the eyes of other characters.  The readers get to see a little more of the town of Gilead as Glory interacts with different members and reminisces about past times.  While Gilead is not in the South (it is set in Iowa), it rings true of Faulkner’s tradition with his legendary county.

Home easily is a great follow-up to Gilead and I only hope that Robinson will write more stories from the town of Gilead.